Over the previous six seasons, every time these sides have played each other there has been a common theme: Favourites versus Underdogs. Everybody loves to watch a dark horse win and even a die-hard MS Dhoni fan or someone who lists canary yellow as a favourite colour can’t overlook Rajasthan’s ability to punch above their weight consistently. More so since they beat Chennai in the final of the first season. In their previous meeting last year, Rajasthan beat Chennai with 17 balls and five wickets to spare.
One for the future
Rajasthan have grown into a finishing school for budding cricketers who have either been ignored by other teams or have fallen through the sieve during the talent hunt. Sanju Samson falls in this category and it was only after he moved from Kolkata Knight Riders to Rajasthan Royals did the world take notice of his talent, one which has been polished by a coaching staff which has Rahul Dravid at the helm. Though he ended up on the losing side against Punjab, his 52 off 34 deliveries was another reminder of his rising stock.
Dwayne Bravo can bat, bowl and field and so good is he in all three departments that he can retain his place in a side just for one of his skills. On top of what he can even dance. But after injuring his shoulder while fielding against Kings XI Punjab, Bravo will watch the rest of the IPL from the sidelines. It means Dhoni will have to look at other options to add balance to his side. Opener Dwayne Smith delivered two overs of medium pace against Delhi and even got the wicket of JP Duminy off his first ball. But the Barbadian will have big shoes to fill if Dhoni is banking on him to bowl more often.
What can Rajasthan offer to match the combined might of Dhoni, Raina and Du Plessis. The answer is Shane Watson. He hasn’t lived up to his potential in Tests and to an extent in ODIs and his critics will say that he is overrated but there are only a few players who can be a match-winner with bat and ball and Watson is one of them. He has been with the Royals since the start of the IPL and it was little wonder that he was named skipper for this season. Chennai, like most other teams, will hope that the captain and in turn his team has a bad day.
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Press Trust of India
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