Clash of leading, contrasting campaigns
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Start time 1600 local (1030 GMT)
Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals have played the same number of games and are separated by only two points on the table. With five games to go each, unless they have a terrible run, they are set to make the playoffs. That is as far as the similarities go, however. Super Kings' campaign has been quite solid. The only team that has felled them, twice at that, has been the flavor of the season, Kings XI Punjab. Their victory margins have been largely emphatic, underlining the assured nature of their campaign.
Royals, on the other hand, have been up and down. Kolkata Knight Riders let it slip twice against them from strong positions, and Royal Challengers Bangalore produced an apology of a batting effort to be bowled out for 70 in Abu Dhabi. Royal Challengers seemed to be set for a comfortable win following Yuvraj Singh's all-round show last night in Bangalore before crumbling in three overs against Steven Smith and James Faulkner. Till the pair looted 65 in 17 balls, Royals had found it tough chasing this season.
They scraped their way to a target of 134 against Sunrisers Hyderabad in their opening match and failed to chase 135 against the same opponents in Ahmedabad. Earlier, they had also fallen short of 141 against Super Kings. For such a line-up to reach 191 with more than an over to spare, after all had appeared lost, will be a tremendous boost. Still, a more balanced attack than Royal Challengers' will await them on a bigger outfield in Ranchi.
Chennai Super Kings: WLWWW (most recent first)
Rajasthan Royals: WLWWW
Where they stand
Chennai Super Kings: 2nd on the table with seven wins in nine games
Rajasthan Royals: 3rd, with six wins in nine games
Dwayne Smith hit 50 off 28 in Dubai but Super Kings were languishing at 74 for 5 in the 12th over before Ravindra Jadeja's unbeaten 36 took them to 140 for 6. Jadeja then took four wickets to reduce Royals to 85 for 8, but Dhawal Kulkarni gave Super Kings a scare with an unbeaten 28 off 19. Royals were eventually dismissed in the last over for 133.
Watch out for
Shane Watson's name does not figure even among the top 20 run-getters this season. Even within his own side, Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair and Sanju Samson are ahead of him. At 130.37, Watson's strike-rate is also much lower than his career T20 figure of 142.47. The front-foot swatter of previous IPL seasons is yet to make his presence felt.
Ishwar Pandey has impressed many with his controlled swing bowling at decent pace this season. He is Super Kings' second-most economical bowler after R Ashwin, but unlike the offspinner who has also taken ten wickets, Pandey has only four victims to show for himself. As someone who has been handed the new ball throughout the season, Pandey needs to take more wickets.
Stats and trivia
- Suresh Raina has hit only five sixes so far. He has never hit fewer than 17 in a full IPL season
- James Faulkner's strike-rate of 188.88 is next only to Glenn Maxwell's this season(minimum 50 runs scored)
"He has got incredible skills. It is very difficult to bowl to him and set a field because he can hit it anywhere he wants, along similar lines as AB de Villiers does."
Royals captain Shane Watson has lavish praise for Steven Smith
"While Ranchi has been a great home away from home and we have played beautifully there, there was an element of returning to our Chennai faithful which we won't be able to do this year."
Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming on his side not playing in their home city this season
Abhishek Purohit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo