Daijiworld Media Network
Chennai, Apr 22: Chennai vs Rajasthan. Number 3 vs number 4 in the points table, which suggests that both teams have done well so far. But Chennai have to improve their home record - they have lost 2 out of the 3 games played at Chepauk this season, and Rajasthan have to improve their away record and bounce back after a big loss against Bangalore. On an unrelated note, here's something which Indian fans will always remember: Exactly on this date, 15 years back, Sachin Tendulkar played that epic desert storm innings in Sharjah. Unforgettable.
Rajasthan have won the toss and elected to bat.
Dhoni: 'We spoke about this in the last presentation ceremony, after the 4th season we have struggled at home for consistency. The pitch has been relaid and we haven't been able to play freely. More than the batting slot, it's the number of overs that determines the batting order for us. We were looking to bat first. It looks like a different surface but we're hoping that it stays the same for the whole game. Albie Morkel is injured, Jason Holder is in.'
Dravid: 'We have to play as a unit. We are that kind of a team. We need to work as a team and that's what we're aiming to do. We're struggling away from home but we're confident. Last time, they won off the last ball so we're feeling good. The pitch does slow up a bit, but it looks better than some of the wickets I've seen here in the past. But it's good to put runs on the board. It's a great challenge to play against Chennai, they are a champion side. Cooper and Rahul Shukla are in. Tait and Sreesanth are out.'
Chennai (Playing XI): Murali Vijay, Michael Hussey, Suresh Raina, S Badrinath, MS Dhoni(w/c), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Jason Holder, Chris Morris, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohit Mahipal Sharma
Rajasthan (Playing XI): Shane Watson, Ajinkya Rahane, Rahul Dravid(c), Brad Hodge, Stuart Binny, Kevon Cooper, Dishant Yagnik(w), James Faulkner, Ajit Chandila, Siddharth Trivedi, Rahul Shukla
Chennai have an impeccable record at home and Rajasthan face a daunting task to upset the opposition on their home turf. The two time champions are certainly a much stronger team and if one leaves aside the set-back they suffered from hands of Pune, they are certainly one of the favourites to clinch the final title. Rajasthan, on the other hand, are rich in local talent and mentored by an in-form Rahul Dravid who has infused the team with his composed attitude and encouraged them to give their best.
Team News: Chennai will be aiming to build a winning momentum and capitalize on the form of their star players to get them through. Their only major worry is the batting and they need to pull up their socks in order to reduce the pressure on their bowlers.
In form player: Ravindra Jadeja - He has been in superb touch lately single-handedly winning them matches and consolidating their position in the points table. In the previous match, he wrapped up Kolkata's batting by picking up 3 wickets in his quota of 4 overs. While batting when the top and middle order made a mess of a simple chase, 'Sir' Jadeja came to the rescue yet again, hitting an unbeaten 36 in just 14 balls to take Chennai home.
Team form: Won against Kolkata by 4 wickets
Probable 4 foreigners: Michael Hussey, Dwayne Bravo, Chris Morris, Albie Morkel
Hit or Miss?
Hit: Michael Hussey is a beacon of hope in an otherwise deadpan Chennai top order. After repeated failures from Murali Vijay, Chennai have been in a desperate situation to start off well. Hussey showed glimpses of his younger destructive self in the last match when he got his team off to a flying start. After losing the next few wickets early, he switched to the role of an anchor and concentrated on playing responsibly instead. Chennai will hope that Hussey will click on the top and address their opening woes.
Miss: Albie Morkel missed the first few games and showed an unremarkable form in the next few. He has looked lackluster with the bat and has barely managed to show any feats with the ball. He was the most expensive bowler in the last match giving away 36 runs in his 4 overs. Hopefully, Morkel would have settled by now and will revert back to his form of previous season when he played a key role in taking Chennai to the final.
Team news: After a brilliant win against Mumbai, Rajasthan slumped against Bangalore when they were not able to put up a respectable total after being asked to bat first. Though the bowling unit has looked good and the top batting order has been performing well, they will have to work on solidifying their middle order so as to stand a chance against a formidable Chennai team. Kevon Cooper who missed the few earlier games is likely to return back.
In form player: Rahul Dravid - The Rajasthan captain has been in brilliant form, not only leading his team well but also performing amazingly with the bat. Dravid has hit two half centuries in six games and has been responsible in keeping the top order together. As a leader he has been astute, marshaling his resources well and leading by example.
Team form: Lost to Bangalore by 7 wickets
Probable 4 foreigners: Shane Watson, Brad Hodge, James Faulkner, Kevon Cooper
Hit or Miss?
Hit: Stuart Binny looked in sublime touch against Bangalore providing the Rajasthan fans some fireworks. After the openers failed to get them off to a good start, Binny along with Dravid forged an important partnership to boost Rajasthan's run-rate. He hit a quick-fire 33 including four boundaries and a six. Rajasthan will be banking on Binny to show similar form against Chennai.
Miss: Shane Watson failed to perform in the previous match against Bangalore and looked unsure in the middle. He was not able to provide them the start they required and over-dependence on Watson has let Rajasthan down on last few occasions. Watson needs to click on the top to help his team get an explosive start against a ruthless Chennai bowling attack.
Head to head: Chennai - 7 Rajasthan - 4
Quotes: Dravid is confident that Rajasthan will perform well - One of the good things about our team is that we got the balance which allows us to play better away from home and that is the reason why I am a little more confident.