Chennai Super Kings v Rajasthan Royals, IPL 2011, Chennai May 3, 2011

Battle of the spin-heavy attacks at Chepauk

Match facts

Wednesday, May 4 Chennai
Start time 1600 (1030 GMT)

Big Picture

The invincibles at home face off in back-to-back games over the next five days. Chennai go in as favourites for the first leg, but will not take things for granted. The Chepauk pitch has behaved a lot like the strip at the Sawai Man Singh - dry, slow and with lots of help for spin. The afternoon start will recreate the heat of Jaipur as well, and Shane Warne's men might feel at home playing here. It will be up to the gladiatorial stands at Chepauk, and the vociferous fans filling them, to remind Rajasthan that this is an away game.

Both sides are on the ascendancy, and will be keen to extend their three-game winning streaks. The game could be decided by the respective spin attacks. Both teams have used three-spinner arsenals to great effect in this tournament. Johan Botha has been flexible, opening the attack at times and coming in late at others - much like R Ashwin has done for Chennai. Shane Warne has rolled the years back in the middle overs, while Ashok Menaria has surprised everyone including himself with his guile. Chennai will look for the same kind of impact from Shadab Jakati and - if he plays - Suraj Randiv. Both have been inconsistent so far this year.

Form guide (most recent first)

Chennai: WWWLL (fourth in points table)
Rajasthan: WWWLL (third in points table)

Team talk

Chennai will review Randiv's role in the side. MS Dhoni likes to have three specialist spinners in the XI for home games, but Randiv has only managed five wickets in six games, and has gone at 7.69 runs per over. Jakati's figures are worse, but he has improved dramatically in the last three games. Will Faf du Plessis be in line for an IPL debut? Or will Nuwan Kulasekara get another game?

Stuart Binny has bowled only three overs and faced 24 balls in five games. Warne may consider benching him in favour of either a specialist bowler or a batsman.

Predict the playing XIs for this match. Play ESPNcricinfo Team selector.

In the spotlight

One of them is the best captain Australia never had. The other has nothing left to win - he leads the world's ODI champions and the No. 1 Test side, and has World Twenty20, IPL and Champions League trophies in his cabinet. MS Dhoni and Shane Warne are diametrically opposite in demeanour and leadership styles, but bring the same innate flair and magnetism to their craft. Will they face off on the pitch tomorrow?

We are three-and-a-half seasons into the IPL, and Rahul Dravid is yet to stamp his excellence on the tournament. He's got starts in almost every innings this year, and has shepherded a couple of chases with his trademark assurance and correct shots. IPL glory can't mean much to a man with over 10,000 runs in each of the formats that matter, but Dravid will still want to make a statement one of these days.

Prime numbers

  • Suresh Raina is the only batsman with over 1500 IPL runs. MS Dhoni is ninth in the list with 1191 runs, while Rahul Dravid is 13th with 1074

  • The last time these two teams played in Chennai, they scored a combined 469 runs in 40 overs - the highest aggregate in any single IPL game.

The chatter

"Once you have dismissed Sachin, you just develop a certain confidence. Any other wicket looks quite ordinary."

Ashok Menaria's first Twenty20 scalp was Sachin Tendulkar. He knows it is all downhill from there.

"I am happy with the way we fought back. We play well in our home conditions and we showed that today. If we play with the same intensity we showed today, we will get far into the tournament."

Shane Warne is pleased with his side's resurgence after three straight losses, but can his side maintain the momentum against Chennai?

Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo