Chennai Super Kings v Rajasthan Royals, IPL, Kimberley May 8, 2009

Resurgent teams look to continue winning

Match facts

May 9, 2009
Start time 4.30pm (14.30GMT, 20.00 IST)

Big Picture

The last time this rematch of last year's final happened, both the teams were languishing in middle-and-lower part of the points table. Things have changed since then. Chennai Super Kings have won four on the trot, including that rematch. Rajasthan Royals have come back from that defeat with three straight victories, and now both teams are the joint leaders.

Given the tight nature of the event, we will surely have a new leader by the time Chennai and Rajasthan face each other again tomorrow, the second game of the day. Then again we might not if Delhi Daredevils and Deccan Chargers both lose their matches. But what's certain is that both Chennai and Rajasthan will be in the top four. What's also certain is - more importantly - that by the end of tomorrow, the teams closest to them will have matches in hand. In that light, it's needless to say how important two points will be for both the teams.

Form guide (completed matches, most recent first)

Chennai: WWWWL
After describing his batting form as "pathetic", MS Dhoni has now become part of a dangerous Chennai trinity, the other two being Matthew Hayden and Suresh Raina. Between them they have scored 895 runs, the rest have scored 391.

Rajasthan: WWWLW
In two matches Amit Singh has taken seven wickets at four runs per wicket and has given away runs at 3.5 an over. But as with Rajasthan's earlier prodigy Kamran Khan, Amit's action is also under suspicion.

Watch out for

Murali v Yusuf: Like Warne v Hayden, this one is a crucial sub-plot to this drama. Main batsman v main spinner, that's where the difference could lie.

Team news

Chennai, despite their winning streak, have two missing links in their piece: the opening pace bowler (Manpreet Gony is not fitting that role) and the opener along with Hayden (S Badrinath was tried last game, and scored a golden duck). But the bright side is that ever since Badrinath has moved up the order - and has thus got a few balls to play himself in - he has played an important anchor role in the middle order.

Chennai: (probable) 1 S Badrinath/M Vijay/Parthiv Patel, 2 Matthew Hayden, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 MS Dhoni (capt. & wk), 5 Albie Morkel, 6 Jacob Oram/George Bailey, 7 Shadab Jakati, 8 Sudeep Tyagi, 9 L Balaji, 10 Manpreet Gony/Joginder Sharma/extra batsman, 11 Muttiah Muralitharan.

It's unlikely Rajasthan will drop Amit. Lee Carseldine, Naman Ojha and Abhishek Raut have been good additions late in the season. It should be touch and go between Morne Morkel, who got his first game when he played against Royal Challengers Bangalore, and Dimitri Mascarenhas.

Rajasthan: (probable) 1 Graeme Smith, 2 Naman Ojha (wk), 3 Lee Carseldine, 4 Yusuf Pathan, 5 Ravindra Jadeja, 6 Niraj Patel, 7 Abhishek Raut, 8 Shane Warne (capt.), 9 Dimitri Mascarenhas/Morne Morkel, 10 Amit Singh, 11 Munaf Patel.

Stats and trivia

Rajasthan's highest run-scorer, Yusuf Pathan with 203 runs, has scored 18 less than Chennai's third-highest run-getter, Dhoni.

Head-to-head record

After three tries last year, Chennai finally beat Rajasthan when they met on April 30.

Last year it was all one-way traffic. Chennai's 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