Rajasthan Royals (RR) can be likened to a small, diligent army well-versed in the coup de main; the swiftness of its surprise attacks, particularly at Jaipur, has left some powerful adversaries wounded.
Twice in this year’s IPL, however, the unit’s been forced to retreat. The most recent setback was the seven-wicket beating at the hands of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) on Saturday.
In part two of its southern foray, RR will engage in combat with the mighty Chennai Super Kings (CSK) at the latter’s citadel on Monday. Having endured consecutive failures here in the last three years, Royals would be gunning for a vital ‘away’ win.
With four wins from six matches, RR finds itself in exactly the same position as it did before its Chennai trip last year. Only that the side no longer evades radars easily – opponents have been mindful of the smokescreen that is the team’s underdog tag.
Marshalled by the sagacious Rahul Dravid, Royals, with quality resources at their command, has looked a happy lot (Brad Hogg’s video diary sheds some light on it).
Although Shane Watson’s returns with the bat have been under-par, his return to bowling must have gladdened Dravid. But a wiggling middle-order would need reinforcement; RR might consider roping in Owais Shah on a wicket (the same as the one used for the RCB match) that’s likely to aid stroke-making.
CSK, meanwhile, is fresh from conquests in Delhi and Kolkata and will want to showcase its invincibility at home. There’s been some tactical manoeuvring lately, including the omission of Michael Hussey for the Pune game and R. Ashwin’s elevation to the opening slot against Kolkata.
The worrisome aspect for CSK, though, would be its ace batters’ form: M. Vijay (101 runs, avg.: 20.20), Suresh Raina (85, 17), and S. Badrinath (90, 22.50) have all underachieved.
Skipper M.S. Dhoni would expect robust batting in the Power Play and some tight-fisted ‘death’ bowling.
With RR looking to employ stealth and deception against a redoubtable home team, there’s much for fans to look forward to.
The only cause for concern would be the weather — Chennai experienced light showers on Sunday.