Arun Gopalakishnan in Mumbai 20 April 2012 - 03:30pm IST
Preview: Match 26 – CSK v RR
Will CSK hit top gear against the upbeat RR?
Chennai Super Kings take on the Rajasthan Royals in Match 26 of DLF IPL 2012.
The defending champions are yet to live up to their high standards, but things are slowly starting to fall in place for Stephen Fleming’s wards. In their most recent match, CSK played their cards right and ended up victorious; they dropped the struggling Murali Vijay and promoted the under-utilised S Badrinath to open the innings. The opening partnership laid a solid platform for the middle-order to flourish, Dhoni promoted himself to No. 4 and his blitz in the final two overs ended up being the difference between the two teams.
Rajasthan Royals have stayed among the top four teams for most of the tournament so far. Underdogs in most contests, Rahul Dravid’s men have won four out of their six matches and have looked like the team to beat even though they don’t have too many stars in their line-up. In their most recent match, they pulled off a challenging – and improbable – run chase against the Deccan Chargers. Confidence levels will be high in the team, and given RR’s combination, this could turn out to be a very closely contested match.
Saturday, April 21, 2011, 04:00 p.m.
MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
Faf du Plessis from South Africa has been very impressive in his first IPL season. Despite his new role as an opener (he generally bats in the middle-order), and unfamiliar playing conditions, du Plessis has hit the mark. He is currently CSK’s leading run-getter and has made up for the absence of Michael Hussey and the lack of runs from the other end.
Suresh Raina and R Ashwin – two very important players in the CSK line-up – haven’t quite come to the party yet. Both players played huge roles in CSK’s run to the title last season, and though they’ve been chipping in, there hasn’t been anything substantial from them yet.
Ajinkya Rahane has been the standout performer in the IPL this season. There was no doubt that the 23-year-old had the technique or temperament; he has now proved that he can adapt to the demands of Twenty20 cricket. Playing within his limitations and with a copybook technique, he has still managed to take his game to a different level.
Having announced his retirement from all other formats of the game, Rahul Dravid is enjoying his cricket like never before; he has scored runs in almost every innings and has been an important contributor to RR’s success so far. In Owais Shah and Brad Hodge, RR have two of the most dangerous finishers in Twenty20 cricket. Both players have impressive T20 records and they’ve lived up to that billing.
Rajasthan Royals beat Chennai Super in each of the three meetings in the inaugural season – including in the title clash. However, since then MS Dhoni’s men have dominated the team from Jaipur by winning five of the six subsequent matches.
When these two teams met last season, CSK dominated RR on both occasions; they won their home fixture by eight wickets and then went on to defeat the Rajasthan Royals in their Jaipur fortress by 63 runs.
• Prior to this season, Ajinkya Rahane had scored 268 runs in 20 IPL matches (16 innings). However, in six innings this season, he has already accumulated 304 runs.
• Chennai Super Kings skipper MS Dhoni is the only player to have captained a team in more than 100 Twenty20 matches (106 T20s in all).
After two home matches in three days, Chennai Super Kings will enjoy a brief break before travelling to Bengaluru to take on the Royal Challengers Bangalore on April 25. Rahul Dravid’s boys will rush back home and prepare to host RCB on April 23.