Crunch time for defending champions Chennai
Match factsThursday, May 10, 2012, Jaipur
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Big PictureNeither team is certain yet of a place in the playoffs, but the team under greater pressure is Chennai Super Kings. The two-time champions have 11 points, with six defeats and five wins. They could so easily have had 13 points, had it not been for the freakish last over against Mumbai Indians when Dwayne Smith hammered 14 from the last three balls. Perhaps most daunting for Super Kings is that their four remaining games include two against the current table leaders Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Daredevils. A defeat against the Royals could jeopardise their chances of qualifying.
Their batting looked over-dependent on Faf du Plessis but against Mumbai there were encouraging signs as the others chipped in. Du Plessis, though, has been down with a virus and remains doubtful for this game. But Super Kings have shown in previous editions that they are most dangerous when the pressure piles up. In 2010, their bowling was in shambles until Doug Bollinger arrived jet-lagged and transformed their fortunes, coincidentally, against Royals. Bollinger, who missed the last game, is reportedly fit and available for selection. However, du Plessis isn't so sure of being. He tweeted about being down with a virus, which he hopes will disappear soon.
Royals have also played 12 games and are just a point ahead of Super Kings. However, two of their remaining games are against the bottom-placed Deccan Chargers and Pune Warriors, and three of them are at home in Jaipur, where they have a sound record. On paper, Royals have a better chance of qualifying. They are also bolstered by the arrival of Shane Watson, who plundered the Warriors with an unbeaten 90.
Form guide(most recent first, completed games)
Rajasthan Royals: WWLLL
Chennai Super Kings: LWLLW
Players to watchM Vijay had been in woeful form, scoring only 45 runs in 59 balls until the game against Mumbai Indians, when he smashed 41 off 29 balls. That innings included three sixes and showed signs of his form from the previous season. He has struggled this time and that has contributed to Super Kings' wobble this year. Vijay doesn't have too much time to turn things around but at least he's made a start.
As significant as Watson's 90 was the three-wicket haul by Shaun Tait against Warriors. The unpredictable Australian fast bowler silenced Sourav Ganguly and Michael Clarke with accuracy, pace and swing. The pitch was slow but Tait extracted life out of it.
Stats and trivia
- Royals are clearly ahead on the batting front with nine fifty-plus scores to just four for Super Kings.
- Super Kings have a 6-4 win-loss record against Royals.
- Super Kings dropped just five games in total in 2011. This season, they have already lost six.
Quotes"If you look at a team like the Delhi Daredevils, you will find guys like Virender Sehwag and Kevin Pietersen finishing off matches for them. We need someone to finish the games off."
Super Kings bowling coach Andy Bichel on what the team lacks, though not convinced by the likes of 'finishers' like MS Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo.
"With a couple of teams in contention it looks like 18 points will be needed (to make the playoffs) but we must not worry about what is needed but just play good cricket."
Rahul Dravid, Royals' captain.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.