Rajasthan Royals v Chennai Super Kings, IPL 2011, Jaipur May 8, 2011

Warne takes centrestage in crunch game

Match facts

Monday, May 9, Jaipur
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)

Big Picture

This will be the first game that Shane Warne will be playing at home after announcing his decision to retire from the IPL at the end of this season. The home crowd is likely to get behind their favourite captain. The first-leg of the home-and-away game was won by Chennai Super Kings in Chepauk. Jaipur have always enjoyed the home advantage but the dry and slow pitch at Sawai Mansingh should also suit Chennai's spin-heavy attack.

In Chennai, though Shadab Jakati starred, it was the seamers, Albie Morkel and Doug Bollinger, who did the job for the home team. It's in the seam department that Chennai trump Rajasthan for both teams generally like to go in with a three-pronged spin attack. Jakati's performance in the last game has added more teeth to the attack; Chennai would hope that Suraj Randiv can get more consistent. Chennai's batting has become more potent since the arrival of Michael Hussey and Suresh Raina's form has seen an upswing in the second half of the tournament.

Rajasthan's batting has been a hit-and-miss affair. If Shane Watson and Ross Taylor click, they can get a big score. Else, it comes down to Johan Botha and Ashok Menaria to push them to a competitive total. Rahul Dravid finally broke his habit of throwing away starts with a polished 66 against Chennai and Rajasthan would wish he can remain consistent from now on.

Form guide (most recent first)

Chennai: LWWWW (fourth in points table)
Rajasthan: LWWWL (fifth in points table)

Team talk

Will Chennai give another chance to Randiv? They like to play three spinners but Randiv has just taken six wickets in eight games at an economy rate of 7.68. While Jakati has improved in the last few games, Randiv has stagnated. The Jaipur pitch might give Randiv another chance at redemption. Chennai have another option in West Indies allrounder Dwayne Bravo, who arrived late on Sunday. Bravo made just 54 runs in the ODI series against Pakistan that West Indies lost 3-2 and picked up four wickets, but New Zealand allrounder and Chennai team-mate Scott Styris wrote on Twitter that Bravo had arrived "just in time for today's match."

Stuart Binny hasn't sparkled yet - he hasn't batted or bowled much. Will Warne replace him this time?

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

In the spotlight

Albie Morkel is a talent on the path of self-destruction. How else can you explain his absence from the South African national side in the ODIs? He is a free-scoring batsman who has often, in the IPL, impressed with the ball but always struggles to find consistency. With the skill-sets at his disposal, he should be a more regular feature in the national side. Will he find that elusive consistency?

Rahul Dravid was one of the main batsmen for Bangalore in the previous editions. He provided stability and at times, even momentum. He has got off to starts this season but has failed to convert most of them. The previous game witnessed a turnaround. Can he carry on? This Rajasthan team needs him even more than Bangalore; they need someone who can allow Watson and Taylor to express themselves. It has to be the job of Dravid who can allow them to do it.

Prime numbers

  • With an average of 54.70, Michael Hussey has the highest batting average in IPL history, ahead of Shaun Marsh's 52.20. Johan Botha is a surprise third with 48.80, albeit he has played just 10 games

  • Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma are at the top of the catches list in the IPL with 28 apiece.

The chatter

"We knew it was coming. He had to work very hard during off season to be in shape for IPL and has bowled really well. We will take his decision as positive and as a challenge."

Johan Botha on Shane Warne's retirement announcement

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo