Rahul Dravid's men need a win against the table-toppers. (BCCI Images)
Jaipur: Arguably the best two teams of IPL 6, Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings will face each other in a top-of-the-table clash at the Sawai Manshigh Stadium here on Sunday. Chennai have already qualified for the play-offs as they have 10 off their 13 matches, while Rajasthan have won nine out of 13 and a win here can see them book their spot in the final four.
Rajasthan have batted consistently in IPL 6 so far with the likes of Rahul Dravid, Ajinkya Rahane and Shane Watson performing very well. Rahane and Watson specially have been the stand-out performers for them, mixing caution and aggression in their play. Dravid has also proved that he can adapt to any format and has played without any pressure this season. The 18-year-old Kerala batsman Sanju Samson is surely one for the future and has given glimpses of his talent in his maiden IPL season. The allrounder Stuart Binny and wicketkeeper-batsman Dishant Yagnik have chipped in with some key performances in the middle order to help smooth over the average for of veteran Brad Hodge.
Rajasthan have also put in a good show with the bowling. Apart from Shaun Tait, who has once again struggled with his line, the others have been stellar this season. New entrant James Faulkner has been outstanding with the ball and has already picked up 19 wickets with economy rate of less than seven per over. He has been well supported by allrounder Kevon Cooper and the dependable Siddarth Trivedi who has picked up wickets at regular intervals. The offspinner Ajit Chandila, who has opened their attack on several occasions, has had success too; most importantly he has kept runs to a premium. However, the fifth bowler has been a bit of worry for Rajasthan. If Binny is not fit, Sreesanth should hold onto his spot in the XI despite conceding 18 in two overs against Kings XI Punjab.
The key for Rajasthan would be to contain Chennai's batsmen, who have shown very little respect to the opposition bowlers. Michael Hussey has scored 574 runs at an average of 57 and has already scored five fifties. He will be once again be crucial at the top for CSK along with Suresh Raina, who is currently the fourth-highest scorer in the tournament and has a strike rate of almost 150. MS Dhoni, Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja too have played useful cameos for them and have given CSK the edge in the slog overs. Dhoni and Jadeja have the ability to change the game on their own even if the team loses wickets early on.
Mohit Sharma has been a revelation upfront while R Ashwin and Bravo have done well in the middle overs. Bravo, surprisingly, is the highest wicket-take of IPL 6 despite having an economy rate on the higher side. Chris Morris has been equally impressive.
Rajasthan are unbeaten at home this season and on the other hand CSK have great away record. This looks to be one another exciting encounter to look forward to.
Rajasthan Royals: 1 Ajinkya Rahane, 2 Rahul Dravid (capt), 3 Shane Watson, 4 Sanju Samson, 5 Dishant Yagnik (wk), 6 Brad Hodge, 7 Kevon Cooper, 8 James Faulkner, 9 Sreesanth, 10 Ajit Chandila, 11 Siddharth Trivedi
Chennai Super Kings: 1 Mike Hussey, 2 Murali Vijay, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 S Badrinath, 5 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 6 Dwayne Bravo, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Chris Morris, 9 R Ashwin, 10 Jason Holder, 11 Mohit Sharma