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Arun Gopalakrishnan in Mumbai 12 May 2014 - 08:52pm IST

Preview: Match 37 – CSK v RR

Super Kings take on Royals in a battle of the bigs

What

Chennai Super Kings will clash with the Rajasthan Royals in Match 37 of Pepsi IPL 2014.

Barring Kings XI Punjab, who have defeated them twice this season, no other opponent has really competed against the Chennai Super Kings. In their most recent outing against the defending champions Mumbai Indians, they ended their win-less streak at the Wankhede Stadium by beating the hosts quite convincingly. Skipper MS Dhoni, who is known to seal close matches, did the honours in style on that occasion too.

Rajasthan Royals must be buoyed by their five-wicket victory against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in their previous outing. After Yuvraj Singh had announced his return to form with a blazing 38-ball 83 and broke the backbone of the RR batting line-up, it seemed like the visitors were headed towards a massive defeat. But that game was turned around spectacularly by some stunning strokeplay by the Australian pair of Steve Smith and James Faulkner. At one point time, RR had an improbable task in front of them, needing 65 runs from the final four overs. But that task turned out to be a cakewalk for Smith and Faulkner, who scored the required runs in 2.5 overs. For a team like Rajasthan Royals, it is impressive how they never give up, keep raising the bar for themselves and pull off heist after heist.

When

Tuesday, May 13, 2014, 4 pm IST

Where

JSCA International Cricket Stadium, Ranchi

The Protagonists

It is not often that the likes of MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina get overshadowed in a CSK jersey. However, this season, they’ve barely scored runs, with the opening pair of Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum doing the bulk of the damage. Between them, CSK’s overseas opening pair has scored more than half the runs tallied by their team.

Earlier, one would attribute CSK’s success to the performance of their spinners. Not this time though, as Mohit Sharma has impressed with the new ball and has given his team early breakthroughs consistently.

All eyes will be on Steve Smith after his pyrotechnics against RCB the other night. For someone as skilled as him, he perhaps bats too low in the batting order, and a climb up might be necessary now. The two senior pros in the team – skipper Shane Watson and Ajinkya Rahane – have had a few quiet outings now, and they will be expected to get back among the runs with the tournament entering a very crucial phase.

Notes from previous match

Chennai Super Kings v Mumbai Indians: Most teams will take 75 for two as a good score at the halfway mark in a T20 match. However, if CSK take a closer look at their innings against MI, they will know that it could have been much better had they not played out six overs, which produced less than a run-a-ball; there were as many as 16 deliveries, which were played straight to a fielder. Fielding coach Steve Rixon would have also made a note of the lapses in the field; three catches were grassed and six runs were leaked on the field. On another day, these lapses could have cost CSK the match.

Rajasthan Royals v Royal Challengers Bangalore: RR were tidy with the ball early on, conceding only 31 runs in the first six overs. But towards the end of the RCB innings, the bowling became one-dimensional with bowlers offering width, which Yuvraj Singh and AB de Villiers gleefully picked for boundaries. The biggest positive for RR will be the way they fought back from what appeared to be a lost cause and converted that into a stunning victory. That performance will only enhance the self-belief of the team; they will start to believe and carry the attitude that no cause is lost until the last ball is bowled.

Previous Meetings

The head-to-head between the Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals reads 9-5 in favour of the former. Since losing the first three matches, MS Dhoni and co. have rallied back superbly to win nine of the following 11 against RR. In the most recent meeting earlier this season in Dubai, Ravindra Jadeja turned things around for CSK, first taking the team to a competitive 140 and then returning to pick up four RR scalps.

Trivia

No team in the world has won more T20 matches than the Chennai Super Kings; they’ve won 77 of their 127 20-over contests.

The Rajasthan Royals have won more run-chases in the IPL than any other team; they’ve been successful in 34 run-chases.

What Next

The Rajasthan Royals head back to their home base to take on the Delhi Daredevils on May 15, while the Chennai Super Kings will enjoy a brief break before hosting Royal Challengers Bangalore in their next fixture on May 18.

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