Rematch of final in new atmosphere
Match factsApril 30, 2009
Start time 4.45pm (1445GMT, 2015 IST)
Surprise, surprise. The rematch of last's year's final will be played between a team trying to stay afloat in the middle of the table, and the other trying to wriggle out of the bottom two. Who would have thought?
Rajasthan Royals have been riding the talisman they call Shane Warne, and they would look for the same from their captain at SuperSport Park. Kamran Khan, Dimitri Mascarenhas and Munaf Patel have responded well to Warne's call. In their last game, against Delhi's mighty batting, the trio bowled 12 overs for 77 runs and five wickets. Warne has also been lucky that Yusuf Pathan has played two gems in both their wins.
Chennai Super Kings will know they can learn a lesson or two from their overperforming opponents. Not much has changed in their line-up from last year, but they seem to have lost the touch. The batsmen, despite Matthew Hayden's good form, have provided little joy, and the bowlers, except for Muttiah Muralitharan, have struggled. On paper, Chennai look the favourites, but the fact is they have won only one of their five games. They will also know if they lose tomorrow, they will have less points than Bangalore, having played the same number of games.
Rajasthan: Yusuf continues to amaze even in South Africa, on bouncier pitches where he was supposed to fail, along with the other Indian batsmen in the team. Yet 104 of his 125 runs have come just in two innings, and he will be looking for more consistency. And he can do with more help from Graeme Smith, the most senior batsman in the side. Smith has been a big failure but the good news is, he finally got going with a solid, unbeaten 44 in their win against Delhi.
Chennai: His pace bowlers have given Dhoni the biggest headaches. They haven't been able to play Makhaya Ntini, and Manpreet Gony, L Balaji and Joginder Sharma have bowled too many length deliveries at around 125kmph. Gony has gone at 10 and over, and Joginder and Balaji at eight.
But Dhoni also finds himself in a scenario he is not used to: where he is not leading by example. He has been part of a middle order that has wasted the starts given by Hayden. To go with Dhoni's failures, S Badrinath has shown he is a misfit at No. 7 in a Twenty20 game, when there are only a few overs left and he has to hit right from ball one.
Watch out for
Warne v Hayden: They have won many a match together, but are now crucial to their teams' individual successes. Bank on Warne to bring in all his experience to try and nullify Hayden, even before he bowls to him. And expect Hayden to raise his game a notch higher when facing an old friend. Hopefully, either Warne comes on to bowl early or Hayden survives till Warne's usual introduction.
Rajasthan have problems with their batting. The Indian batsmen, apart from Yusuf, have not contributed at all. More changes are not completely unexpected. Neither Rob Quiney nor Tyron Henderson has been successful and they will need to address that issue too.
Rajasthan: (probable) 1 Graeme Smith, 2 Swapnil Asnodkar, 3 Rob Quiney/Tyron Henderson/Lee Carseldine, 4 Yusuf Pathan, 5 Dimitri Mascarenhas, 6 Ravindra Jedeja, 7 Shane Warne (capt), 8 Mahesh Rawat (wk), 9 Abhishek Raut/Paul Valthaty/anybody, 10 Kamran Khan, 11 Munaf Patel.
Chennai's biggest problem has been the local players. If they have to play Ntini, they will have to forego either of Jacob Oram and Albie Morkel. And they could also want to play M Vijay ahead of Badri.
Chennai: (probable) 1 Parthiv Patel, 2 Matthew Hayden, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 MS Dhoni (capt. & wk), 5 Albie Morkel, 6 Jacob Oram, 7 S Badrinath/M Vijay, 8 Joginder Sharma, 9 L Balaji, 10 Manpreet Gony, 11 Muttiah Muralitharan.
Having played Rajasthan thrice, they are yet to beat them. The defeats included being bowled out for 109 in Jaipur, conceding 211 in Chennai, and failing to defend 163 in the final last year in Mumbai.
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo