RIVETING BATTLE ON THE CARDS.
DATE: 21th April, 2012
VENUE: MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chepauk
TIME: 16:00 (IST)
With two back-to-back stupendous victories posting 195 in one and chasing 196 in the other, Rajasthan Royals have made a strong statement. Dravids outfit stands out of the herd for its sheer single mindedness to win the game as a unit. This mantra of theirs is conspicuous in all the victories they have had so far. Inexperience and lack of stars is now less talked about for bowlers, given their limitation, went about their job wholeheartedly and the batsmen ensured that they get full support, as winning consistently requires team effort.
Juxtaposing consistent Royals against erratic Chennai Super Kings only highlights superiority of Dravids team over Dhonis men. But no team can afford to be complacent against a side that has shown high quality cricket in the past four IPLs and importantly, is fresh from a win against Pune Warriors. The flair of their game against RCB is still fresh; where they went on to achieve a mammoth total of 205. These two victories have come on their home ground and it would be tough to mow down an intimidating line-up. Du Plessis is a fearsome batsman who strikes the ball effortlessly pouring torrents of runs on the board. With a strike rate of 137.95 in six matches, he has always powered CSK at the top. Dhoni is back with his power performances. His 40 off 24 balls against RCB and 28 off 12 balls against Pune at Chepauk were blazing cameos that helped CSK to victories. Raina, the batting sensation of all the previous IPL seasons, has this time failed to make an impact with no big innings played. In the absence of Albie Morkel, Bollinger will head the bowling attack with Nuwan Kulasekara. Kulsakera can be tricky to play. His last stint against Pune, he claimed 2 wickets for just 10 runs. Ashwin has been unlucky so far in picking up wickets but has been economic and his overs usually dry up the flow of runs. Jakati has been irregular in his contribution with the ball. The bowling boasts of big names but on quite a few occasions they together have failed to deliver.
Royals batsmen deserve a larger share of credit, as the batting unit has stood tall all the time ensuring that Rajasthan Royals prevailed. The most dependable openers of IPL 1012, Dravid and Rahane, not only have scored runs at a strike rate if 111.76 and 146.15 respectively, but also have registered fastest fifty by a team in just 4.5 overs. The indomitable middle order continues to impress. Owais Shah, with his 216 runs in six matches, stands third to Ajinkya Rahane among the top scorers in IPL 2012, with Du Plessis currently splitting the two. Shah and Brad Hodge pummel the opponents mercilessly after the platform is laid by the top order. Even the most experienced bowlers look ordinary when these two righties take charge at the crease. Lately it was Dale Steyn, the best international pacer, who suffered at the hands of Hodge. In the 17th over of the game between RR and DC, Steyn was thrashed for four fours that spoiled his figures badly. Ashok Menaria, so far, has batted meticulously giving support to the batsman at the other end. Hodge and Menarias bowling skills also come in handy at critical points. Pacers have been the weak link so far; they have been expensive off late, but then the last game was a high scoring affair. Hogg and Trivedi have done well in containing the flow of runs. But on a batting paradise like that at Chepauk, bowlers will have an uphill task to stop CSKs run flow.
Injury might keep Sreevats Goswami out of the game this time as well. But there is not much to worry about as in the last game Dishant Yagnik shouldered the responsibility and took Royals home by hitting two consecutive boundaries off Steyn in a crunch situation. Just as Coopers absence did not cripple Royals, so it should be in the case of Goswamis absence.
PLAYERS WHO SHOULD STEAL THE THUNDER
Brad Hodge: His good run with the bat and man of the match innings of 48 off 21 balls against Deccan Chargers makes him a potential threat for CSK. Another breathtaking display might unfold at Chepauk.
Sidharth Trivedi: With his controlled pace, he has managed to control the flow of runs and has provided breakthroughs at crucial points. He has taken nine wickets till now at an impressive average of 19.87 with 4 for 25 against Bangalore being best so far this edition.
Ravichandran Ashwin: He has been economic in giving away runs and has the lowest bowling failure rate (i.e. the most consistent). His Carrom balls are still an unsolved maze. He is just a match away from delivering a match defining spell.
MS Dhoni: The Indian captain has got a powerful wrist and his aggression is unmatchable. Even under pressure he delivers spectacular performances and blazes the innings. Captain cool is in form and can be destructive.
The wicket at MA Chidambaram stadium at Chepauk is slow and has a variable bounce. The team who would win the toss may prefer to bowl first because of this and the humidity and heat factor.
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