Otago's chance to seal place in final four
Match factsOctober 1, 2013
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Big PictureEven before their match against Lions descended into Super Over mayhem, Otago had played some of the most exciting cricket in the Champions League T20. They are placed second in the Group A table, with 10 points from 3 games. Their last league match against Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur will be the difference between them looking ahead confidently to the semis, and waiting nervously for other teams to turn things their way - Otago could still make it to the last four in spite of a loss, but that would entail leaving their fate in the hands of Perth Scorchers, who are scheduled to play Mumbai Indians on Wednesday. If Otago lose and Scorchers are beaten, then it comes down the net run rate between Mumbai Indians and the New Zealand unit. It Otago win, they seal their spot in the final four.
It's not as if this is mere match practice for Royals, though. A victory against Otago will help them retain their position at the top of Group A, meaning they can play their semi-final at home - their Jaipur fortress - against the second-placed team from Group B. A loss, which would put Otago on top of the table, will take Royals into a semi-final against the rampaging Chennai Super Kings at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi.
Both teams are unbeaten in the league stage, although Otago have had one abandoned game. Each team has also found unlikely heroes in their wins. Otago have had a century from Neil Broom and James Neesham's scintillating innings, which may well send his stock soaring in the IPL auctions. Royals have found match-winners in Kevon Cooper and Sanju Samson, apart from Brad Hodge.
Against Otago, however, the Royals bowling will need to be at its sharpest and most incisive. Otago's batsmen have the ability to effortlessly switch gears from a steady pace to a sudden blitz and it's not just about Brendon McCullum. Broom, Hamish Rutherford, Neesham and Ryan ten Doeschate all have the ability to accelerate and hit boundaries at will.
Players to watchWith their batsmen grabbing all the attention, the Otago bowlers have worked quietly in the background. Ian Butler is one of them, at the top of the tournament's wickets table after Sunday's games with eight wickets from four matches at an average of 14.75.
Ajinkya Rahane's half-century against Scorchers is good news for Royals. He has been a constant in some of Royals' highest opening partnerships. Against Otago, whether they bat first or chase, Royals will need a sure-footed start and Rahane's form will be important.
Rachna Shetty is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo