Rajasthan Royals does not lag far behind Chennai Super Kings in consistency
Can we expect a regal contest, even if short and contrived?
Chennai Super Kings, a near-flawless performer, pitted against Rajasthan Royals, a team on the surge, propelled by an innate force to dominate. Both teams have been playing exciting cricket to the delight of their fans. Can they extend that phase?
CSK has excelled in this edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) with greater consistency than the rest. Rajasthan Royals, of course, has not lagged, drawing its strength from the presence of Rahul Dravid, who has enjoyed his captaincy like never before. He relinquished Indian captaincy because he found the job tedious. He had stopped relishing the responsibility.
Here, Rajasthan Royals has emerged a fiercely competitive force essentially due to Dravid’s leadership.
He has read his depth and situations astutely and delivered with dignity.
CSK too has a compelling captain in Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who believes in sharing the accountability.
As a result, CSK has had a string of performers with Michael Hussey and Suresh Raina showing intense form with the bat, scoring runs when they matter, picking victories with consummate ease.
If CSK sits pretty at the top of the table, ensured of a place in the next phase, credit ought to go to Dhoni for marshalling his force incisively.
Thanks to Dravid, Rajasthan Royals has improved its last year’s record. He has instilled confidence in the talented Ajinkya Rahane who was unfortunate to lose his place in the Indian team for the Champions Trophy.
Dravid too has produced quality runs with his ability to bring correct batsmanship even to this format of the game where cross-batted heaves are an integral feature.
Dravid, by playing proper cricket shots, has only underlined the significance of technique, regardless of the format or level of the competition.
Making it count
Unsurprisingly Dravid and Rahane have motivated the young Sanju Vishwanadh Samson to prosper among elite company.
If IPL is a learning process, Sanju illustrates it best, making the most of the opportunities, even if in a format that hardly appeals to the serious cricket followers. The national selectors do not even watch the IPL.
There is a hardly a player in the IPL who would have escaped their scrutiny on the domestic circuit.
Rajasthan Royals has not lost a match at home. CSK is known to dent reputations. It will be intriguing, and pulsating too, if the teams play to their potential.
CSK has 20 points and Rajasthan Royals 18 with three matches to go. The fans would not be off the mark to expect an edge-of-the-seat thriller at the SMS Stadium here.
Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Dravid (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson (wk), Shane Watson, Brad Hodge, Stuart Binny, Owais Shah, James Faulkner, Ajit Chandila, Siddharth Trivedi, S Sreesanth, Brad Hogg, Fidel Edwards, Kevon Cooper, Kushal Perera, Samuel Badree, Shaun Tait, Ankit Chavan, Ashok Maneria, Dishant Yagnik, Harmeet Singh, Kumar Borsea, Pravin Thambe, Rahul Shukla, Sachin Baby, Shreevats Goswami, Vikramjeet Malik.
Chennai Super Kings: M S Dhoni (c), Akila Dananjaya, Albie Morkel, Srikkanta Anirutha, Ankit Rajpoot, Baba Aparajith, Ben Hilfenhaus, Ben Laughlin, Chris Morris, Dirk Nannes, Dwayne Bravo, Francois du Plessis, Imtiyaz Ahmed, Jason Holder, Michael Hussey, Mohit Sharma, Murali Vijay, Nuwan Kulasekara, R Karthikeyan, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ronit More, Shadab Jakati, S Badrinath, Suresh Raina, Vijay Shankar and Wridhiman Saha.