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After three wins from five matches in the UAE leg of the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2014, the Rajasthan Royals are raring to go in the India leg of the tournament. The Shane Watson-led side will take on the Delhi Daredevils on May 3 at the Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium in Delhi.
After arriving in Delhi on April 30, the Royals practiced at Kotla on May 1. They will be riding high on confidence after their thrilling win over the Kolkata Knight Riders, which was decided on the basis of the boundary count after even the Super Over couldn’t help pick a winner.
Senior all-rounder Rajat Bhatia attributed the team’s victory to playing smart cricket. When asked about the game, he said, “The best thing about our team is we believe in playing smart cricket rather than playing aggressive cricket. We knew if we score two runs, then we will win the match. When batsmen like Steve Smith and Shane Watson are at the crease, they don’t need to be told. They already knew about the calculations.” He further elaborated that in team meetings the emphasis is always on playing smart cricket. He added, “We always emphasise on playing smart cricket than playing aggressively and without any common sense. I don’t know if KKR knew about the equation, but we knew what we needed to do (to clinch the game)”
Asked to reflect on their achievements in the series so far and whether the team has set and achieved their targets during the UAE leg of the tournament, he said, “To be honest, I don’t think there was any kind of target. All we wanted to do was play good cricket and that’s what we are doing. We have been supported by a few good players and especially by a mentor like Rahul Dravid. We want to play good cricket and automatically that kind of thing brings the best out of you”
Discussing his team and its ethos, Bhatia said, “Every guy in this team is a superstar and that is why they have been picked. If you aren’t a superstar, they wouldn’t have been picked. Everybody is getting their chances and at the back of their mind they know what role they have to play. We have already been told what kind of role we will be playing. Everyone will get their chance.”
Speaking about his role, especially while bowling in the middle overs, Bhatia said, “That’s what I was doing when I was playing for the (Delhi) Daredevils or KKR and that’s what I am doing here, and that’s what I have been picked for. I am doing the best that I can do. I am not here to bowl at 140-150 kph. I am here to give my best and make the batsmen struggle and give away less runs and pick crucial wickets.”
Asked about the difference between the RR dressing room and the others which he has been a part of, he observed, “I think they (RR) are more planned (in their approach), and more systematic. There is a plan behind each and everything, in each and every game. And we have been picked according to that (plan). It's not like we just go to the ground and plan things. It’s done beforehand. So they go according to plan, and some plans are successful and sometimes they won’t work, but it looks to me that things are going according to plan.”
Bhatia, who plays for Delhi in India’s domestic circuit, said, “Obviously, the team will benefit from my experience of playing at Kotla. All teams will now realise that all the matches will be played in India. So all teams need to adapt quickly and do their homework.” “I don’t know what kind of wicket it will be. The wicket has been covered so far. Our job is to adapt to the wicket and try and do well," he said.
Pepsi IPL 2014 arrives in India. After some exhilarating action in the first leg of the competition in the UAE, the tournament heads back to its roots.
The first game of India leg of the competition will see the Chennai Super Kings pitted against the Kolkata Knight Riders. CSK were slow off the blocks, losing to Kings XI Punjab in their opening tie of the season. But since then, they have rolled over Delhi Daredevils, Rajasthan Royals, Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers Hyderabad, and are placed second in league standings.
The Kolkata Knight Riders have two wins from five matches. They nearly had another match in the kitty, but for losing their way in the run-chase against the Rajasthan Royals in their last outing, which was eventually decided on the basis of a Super Over after the regulation period concluded with both teams tied on the same score.
Friday, May 2, 2014, 8 pm IST
JSCA International Cricket Stadium, Ranchi
The numbers say the story. Between them, Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum have faced more than 50 percent of the deliveries and contributed more than half the runs scored by their team. The opening pair has provided CSK with starts every time and either of them has finished as the team’s top-scorer in four of the five matches this season. The one other player to keep an eye on – for reasons other than just cricket – will be their skipper MS Dhoni. It is not often that the crowd gets to see one of their own in action; the JSCA International Cricket Stadium is sure to explode once the hometown hero, MSD, steps on the field.
Among the players sporting the purple and gold jersey, keep an eye on Gautam Gambhir (who broke his disastrous run and came good in the previous match) and Sunil Narine. With the KKR skipper back among the runs, it will take a significant amount of pressure off the shoulders of Manish Pandey and Jacques Kallis – the team’s top two run-getters so far. Also, keep an eye on the gem KKR have unearthed this season – Suryakumar Yadav. The 23-year-old from Mumbai has emerged as a very good finisher; he has impressed with his match awareness, temperament and choice of shots. Notes from Previous match
Chennai Super Kings v Sunrisers Hyderabad: CSK did very well in not allowing the opposition to post big partnerships. Every time SRH looked to build a partnership, one of the CSK bowlers pulled them back by picking up a wicket. That will be one of the items under the “Jobs well done” column in the coach’s diary. Stephen Fleming will hopefully have a word or two for his batsmen too – who got off to starts, were well-set, but didn’t carry on to finish the job.
Kolkata Knight Riders v Rajasthan Royals: The biggest positive for KKR is that their skipper showed signs of getting back to form. Areas of concern will be how the batsmen made a hash of what should have been a straightforward and simple run-chase. Among other things that call for improvement will be decision making and match awareness; Jacques Kallis didn’t bowl a second over despite conceding only four runs in his solitary over. Plus, the decision to have men patrolling the boundary in the final delivery of the Super Over showed the lack of match awareness. Previous Meetings
Two-time IPL champions, Chennai Super Kings, have a stranglehold over the Kolkata Knight Riders having won eight of the 12 contests between the two teams. When these two sides met last season, CSK prevailed on both occasions. They chased down 120 in the first match in Kolkata and then registered a 14-run win after posting 200 runs on the board at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.
MS Dhoni has played four innings in matches at Ranchi – across all formats – and has scored 93 runs at a strike-rate of 211.36.
In Pepsi IPL 2013, the JSCA International Cricket Stadium in Ranchi was one of Kolkata Knight Riders’ home venues. This time they will occupy the visiting team’s dressing room.
The top three batsmen in the CSK line-up have so far scored 532 runs – more than any other team in Pepsi IPL 2014.
The Chennai Super Kings will hit the road and travel to the nation’s capital to take on the Delhi Daredevils on May 5. The Kolkata Knight Riders play the second of their four back-to-back away games when they take on the Rajasthan Royals in Ahmedabad.