Royals square up to Super Kings batting arsenal
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Start time 1830 local (1430 GMT, 2000 IST)
After the shock-and-awe show by Glenn Maxwell and David Miler, Rajasthan Royals captain Shane Watson was quick to admit there was little any bowling side could have done in the face of such calculated and skillful belligerence.
Chennai Super Kings will be a bigger challenge for Royals on the basis of facing possibly the strongest top six in the current IPL. Their win against Delhi Daredevils would have buoyed Super Kings as it turned out to be a far more comprehensive effort than the game against Kings XI Punjab, where their bowling and fielding were a letdown. An even better sign for them was the team selection in conditions that played right into their three-seamer strategy. In Dubai, too, the ball can seam under lights early on, as the Daredevils attack showed a few days ago against Kolkata Knight Riders, so Super Kings may well opt to leave Samuel Badree out for one more game.
In spite of their loss, Royals had a lot of positives from their game; the biggest, undoubtedly, being Watson's return to form. The new opening pair of Mumbai batsmen - Ajinkya Rahane and Abhishek Nayar - haven't yet settled at the top, but with Stuart Binny and Steven Smith showing they can hold the middle order together, the old pair of Rahane and Watson striding out may lift the team against a tough opposition.
Players to watch
Sanju Samson's half-century on Sunday stood out for two reasons - an ability to strike cleanly and a lack of fear, evident in the way he smacked L Balaji over the leg side off just the sixth ball of his innings. As India's highest run-getter at the recent Under-19 World Cup held in the UAE, he also brought in his experience of local conditions into play.
Ishwar Pandey has been on the fringes of the India team for the last couple of seasons and found himself in the same position on the Pune Warriors bench last year, as he played just two games in a long campaign. He found his rhythm immediately on debut for Super Kings and will hope for a longer run in the tournament this year.
Stats & Trivia
- Before his half-century against Kings XI Punjab, Shane Watson's last T20 fifty came during the IPL in May last year
- Royals have won five out of 13 IPL matches between the two sides
- With 19 fifties and one hundred, Suresh Raina shares the record for the most fifty-plus scores in the IPL (20) with Chris Gayle and Gautam Gambhir. He also has the record for most catches in the league (55)
Rachna Shetty is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo