Chennai v Rajasthan, IPL 2013, Chennai April 21, 2013

Underdogs face another tough task

Match facts

Monday, April 22
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)

Big Picture

Rajasthan Royals' most recent opening stands are perhaps the most telling statement of how important a good start is for a side that doesn't bat deep. Their openers put on only 10 against Royal Challengers Bangalore and Royals were soundly thrashed; they put on 62 against Mumbai Indians and Royals coasted to a big win. As they take on Chennai Super Kings, a team with the best home record in the history of the IPL, Rahul Dravid would hope his openers can shake off their inconsistency and bat the way they did against Mumbai.

Given the collapse that ensued after Rahul Dravid's dismissal against Royal Challengers, Royals may contemplate bringing in Owais Shah, but dropping a foreign player will create a selection dilemma. Super Kings, meanwhile, will take note of another factor against Royals: they haven't shot down any big chases in IPL 2013, yet. Of their six games, Royals have chased a target only once, a paltry 124 against Kings XI Punjab.

Super Kings' campaign has moved in fits and starts, from thrashing Kings XI to losing to Pune Warriors and almost losing a low-scoring chase against Knight Riders. At the moment, they rely heavily on Michael Hussey, MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja for their runs. With M Vijay and Suresh Raina inconsistent, their over-reliance on Hussey and Dhoni can be a shortcoming Royals can exploit.

Super Kings have a better bowling attack with. Albie Morkel, Mohit Sharma, R Ashwin, Chris Morris, Dwayne Bravo and Jadeja doing well for the side. Although they lack a big name, the Royals bowling unit has looked cohesive with the only concern arising from the inconsistency of Sreesanth and Shaun Tait.

Form Guide

Chennai Super Kings WWLWW (most recent first)
Rajasthan Royals LWWLW

Players to watch

In the five games that he's played since missing Super Kings' first game, Chris Morris has settled into the line-up. He's taken nine wickets in five matches so far, the second highest wicket-taker for Super Kings this season after Dwayne Bravo. He's a good batsman, too, and a move up the order might benefit the side.

Before the tournament started, Rahul Dravid stressed on Shane Watson's importance for the side. The Australian allrounder, one of the top Twenty20 cricketers in the world, also bowled for the first time in four months against Royal Challengers, picking up two wickets in two overs. He got Royals off to their best start against Mumbai and the team will bank on him to do the same against Chennai.

Stats and trivia

  • Michael Hussey (217) and MS Dhoni (147) have scored 41% of Super Kings' runs so far in this season.
  • Siddharth Trivedi is the highest wicket-taker for Rajasthan Royals with 59 wickets from 55 matches.
  • Ajinkya Rahane is the first Royals batsman to cross 200 runs in this season.

Quotes

"We still haven't played our best cricket and hopefully we can do that."
Rajasthan Royals' captain Rahul Dravid backs his team's potential to win away matches

Rachna Shetty is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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