CSK seek to make it unlucky 13 for Royals
Friday, October 4, 2013
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Till Wednesday evening, it was almost assumed that Chennai Super Kings would stay back in Delhi for their semi-final clash against Mumbai Indians, who had just qualified for the knockouts in blistering fashion earlier in the day. Super Kings were on top of Group B, undefeated, but as the night wore on, they slipped one notch below after a crushing defeat to Trinidad and Tobago. T&T not only won, but stormed home in just over 15 overs to top the group. It meant that the West Indian side would end up staying back in Delhi, while Super Kings would have to travel to Jaipur to take on Rajasthan Royals. With the Royals sitting on a 12-match winning-streak at home, stretching back to the IPL, you wouldn't expect many teams relishing the prospect of playing them there. It shows that in this format, one bad day can make a difference.
Super Kings suffered a rare batting meltdown against T&T with only three of their batsmen going into double-figures. Their famed finishers failed in unison and the side lost its last five wickets for 16 runs. Super Kings still played their best team, but as they learned even during the IPL final, even the best sides can defy expectations. They arrived in Jaipur late on Thursday and decided not to practice.
Will the Royals' home streak finally end? There were fears of that happening on Tuesday when the Otago Volts fought back to pick up quick middle-order wickets in Royals' chase of a middling 140. Brad Hodge rescued them to script a win with nearly an over to spare, but they knew it shouldn't have been this close. From their point of view, it was good that they were tested ahead of the knockouts.
In the spotlight
Game 1 - 3-0-49-1; Game 2 - 1-0-22-0, Game 3 - 4-0-18-2; Game 4 - 2-0-30-0. Ravindra Jadeja's bowling figures. Those for the third game, against Brisbane Heat, were more than respectable, but aside from that, Jadeja's had a horror of a tournament with the ball, with an overall economy rate of 11.90. He hasn't had many opportunities to bat either, but in his one chance to occupy the crease for a sufficient period, against T&T, he was run out for 3. While he might still keep his place, Super Kings' star allrounder will need to turn it around quickly, at least with the ball.
Rahul Dravid was asked after the Otago game if his Man of the Match, Rahul Shukla, had done enough to get another game. He may have refused to "give away team secrets", but after Shukla's dream performance, no captain would want to bench him. The Jharkhand fast bowler came in as Vikramjeet Malik's replacement and derailed Otago's top order with three wickets in his first over. Those blows stood in Otago's way of pushing for a more competitive total.
"Ideally, we would have liked to keep our winning ways and stay here at one place. We would have loved to face Mumbai in the semi-finals but you can't pick and choose and we are now heading to Rajasthan. They are a pretty formidable side at home and we need to be on top of our game."
Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo