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Match 61 of Pepsi IPL 2013 will see the Rajasthan Royals lock horns with two-time champions and table-toppers Chennai Super Kings. A win in this match will take CSK closer to a top two finish, while a RR victory will confirm their progress to the Pepsi IPL 2013 Play-Offs.
RR are a very difficult unit to beat at home – given they know the conditions well and know how to make the best of the conditions there. That apart, they come into this match with the confidence of having defeated Kings XI Punjab on the road. The Chennai Super Kings recovered from the 60-run defeat they received at the hands of Mumbai Indians and got the better of Sunrisers Hyderabad in their previous match.
Sunday, May 12, 2013, 8 p.m
Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur
In terms of international match-winners, Rajasthan Royals have only one – Shane Watson. His inclusion in the XI certainly gives RR a settled look and runs from him almost always result in a victory. However the one player who has gone about his job without too much glamour or glitz and has had a massive influence on the team is Ajinkya Rahane. The 24-year old Rahane has now scored half-centuries in the last three matches and has been the team’s top-scorer in five of their 13 matches. Skipper Rahul Dravid, Stuart Binny and Sanju Vishwanadh too have played their part whenever they have been needed and will be expected to do so again. On the bowling front, Ajit Chandila has been outstanding – often giving his team a breakthrough in his first over, while James Faulkner – RR’s leading wicket-taker – will have an eye on the Purple Cap.
The two batsmen who have had a major influence on CSK’s fortunes are Michael Hussey and Suresh Raina. Numbers best illustrate the impact these players have on CSK’s wins; in 10 victories this season, the two left-handers have scored close to 60% of the runs scored by the team. MS Dhoni has been brilliant in calling the shots – not only on the field but also in deciding the batting order of the team. With the bat too, Dhoni has been in smashing form irrespective of which position he has batted at.
Rajasthan Royals got the better of the Chennai Super Kings in each of the three meetings between the two teams in the inaugural season of the IPL – including the title clash. However, since then CSK have had held their own – winning eight of the nine matches between the two teams.
Suresh Raina has scored over 400 in each of the six IPL seasons so far. 2009 was his most-productive season; he scored 520 runs in 16 matches. He has so far scored 458 runs and has a chance to make it his best-ever IPL season.
CSK’s Albie Morkel has impressive numbers when playing against the Rajasthan Royals. In ten matches, he has scored 246 runs at an incredible strike-rate of 172.02 and has picked up 14 wickets.
Rajasthan Royals have been lucky with the coin in their matches against the Chennai Super Kings; they’ve won the toss in 9 of the 12 matches.
Rajasthan Royals head to Mumbai for their penultimate league fixture of the season. They are scheduled to take on Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium on May 15. Chennai Super Kings meanwhile head back home to play their final home fixture of the season when they host the Delhi Daredevils on May 14.
It was a team effort that helped theKolkata Knight Riders secure a 46-run victory in their previous fixture against thePune Warriors India. They got the runs, backed it up with a disciplined bowling display and the win kept their hopes alive for a play-off spot in the competition. Ask KKR captain Gautam Gambhir about his team’s chances in the tournament and he will sound as optimistic as ever, saying, “At the moment, the competition is pretty open. We still have a fair chance of reaching the play-offs. For me what matters is the remaining three games and we face RCB on Sunday, which is a must win game for us. Hopefully we can try and deliver.”
RCB are coming off a win against the Delhi Daredevils and will be high on confidence especially with their captain Virat Kohli going great guns with a 99 the on Friday night.Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers form the batting nucleus for RCB and when asked if KKR had a strategy to counter them, Gambhir said, “We do not strategise against individuals. We do not discuss individuals; we will only look to do what we do best and stick to our strength.”
Not surprisingly, KKR’s strength has been their bowling so far in the tournament. Sunil Narine, still remains a mystery for most sides while the likes of Jacuqes Kallis, Rajat Bhatia and L Balaji have been key bowlers in the KKR attack that has been consistent in the tournament so far. The captain agreed the fast bowlers and spinners had done their bit. “KKR is not dependent only on its spin bowlers. If you see in the tournament, Jacques Kallis and L Balaji too have done well for us, which are great signs for us. Spinners have been successful for us, they have been different, and they have not been conventional spinners. Our bowling unit on the whole has been good.”
But the real concern has been the batting for KKR. The batting line-up that boasts of big names in the side, has quite not lived up to the expectations and has failed to put up big scores on the board. Gambhir believed KKR were not clicking well as a cohesive unit.
“We have been consistent in patches through the tournament. There have been times when the batting has clicked and the bowling has not complemented it and vice-versa. We need to click as a collective unit, something that we did in the previous game. Hopefully we are professional in our batting, bowling and fielding when we play RCB.”
“We will try and win the win game on Sunday. Be it any situation, we as a team; enter the ground thinking about a victory. We do not play to participate. We will look to play some good cricket and get a win,” added Gambhir.
KKR play RCB at the JSCA international stadium in Ranchi, wherein the stadium will stage its first ever IPL game. A home venue for the Knights and Gambhir was hopeful for some good support for the home side. “I feel Ranchi is one of the best grounds in India, in terms of the facilities and other aspects of the ground. Hope we get the same amount of support like we get back home at the Eden Gardens. The crowd in Kolkata has been fantastic with their support and hopefully we get the same kind of support in Ranchi as well.”