Rajasthan v Chennai, IPL 2013, Jaipur May 11, 2013

Second spot in Rajasthan's sights

Match facts

May 12, 2013
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT

Big Picture

It's ironic that even at this stage, not even one of the four playoff berths have been confirmed. It's easy to think that Chennai Super Kings, table leaders since April 28, have already made it to the playoffs, but mathematically, they haven't. Victory against Rajasthan Royals on Sunday will confirm their position in the final four. After Jaipur, they head back home to face the easiest of their three opponents , Delhi Daredevils, before heading to Bangalore. Both their away games are against teams that haven't lost at home. The prospect of Super Kings getting eliminated is highly improbable, given their consistency. They had a rude wake-up call against Mumbai Indians, but the manner in which they overpowered Sunrisers Hyderabad - another team with an unbeaten home record till that night - showed that they hadn't hit a late-season slump.

Royals will be aware that if there's one team that can challenge their fortress, it's Super Kings. Royals' remaining opponents aren't the easiest - Super Kings, Mumbai Indians (away), Sunrisers (away). However, given their recent form, it's hard to bet against them from qualifying either. Their last three wins - consecutive - have come while chasing. They will also be aware that Super Kings posted 223 in their last match, so if they end up bowling first, their bowlers will have to be at their best. Royals are third with 18 points and their aim will be to knock Mumbai off the second position.

Form guide

Rajasthan Royals WWWLW
Chennai Super Kings WLWWW

Players to watch

M Vijay missed a few games due to injury, and though he failed in his comeback game against Mumbai, scoring 2, he found his touch against Sunrisers. Though he didn't score big - he scored 29 - his three consecutive sixes against Ishant Sharma, all stand-and-deliver shots, showed that he was getting his groove back.

The Royals top order has been in sparkling form of late, with the team losing just eight wickets in the last three games. Their top three - Rahul Dravid, Ajinkya Rahane and Shane Watson - have aggregated 368 runs, with a total of five half-centuries. Super Kings' bowlers will be tested.

Stats and trivia

  • Super Kings have won two out of the three games they have played at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium
  • MS Dhoni has effected nine stumpings off R Ashwin, the best wicketkeeper-bowler combination in the IPL

Quotes

"We need to bowl better in the death overs and giving away 87 runs in last five overs is not acceptable. We could not maintain the momentum in death overs. About 50-55 in last five is okay but not more than that."
Super Kings' fielding coach Steve Rixon

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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