Top Guns: Champions Day Out

Match#43- Chennai Super Kings v/s Rajasthan Royals

MA Chidambaram stadium, Chepauk, Chennai
 
Form Guide: CSK- Win, Loss, Win, Loss, Loss, Win, Win, Win, 
                        RR- Win, Win, Loss, Loss, Loss, Draw, Win, Win, Win, 
 
The in-form teams of this league face off at the Champion’s Den. 
 
On the Yellow side, we have The Super Kings- fresh from a 3-match winning streak- secretly hoping that the ongoing curse of a team not being able to go 4 games without a loss in this league- will be disrupted. 
 
On the Blue side we have the Royals- fresh from a streak that would put Warne’s previous streaks to shame, with their fortress at home (and some pretty lasses cheering unabashedly) being chiefly responsible for their turnaround just in time to make the coveted knockouts and consistently shock teams by punching above their perennial lightweight status. 
 
What makes this clash more interesting will be the poor home record of the Super Kings- combined with the even-poorer Away record of the Royals.
 
It will all come down to the team that definitely does not want to prove a point. Who will play worse?
 
Chennai Super Kings: (Winners 2010, Finals 2008, Semi finals 2009)
 
After facing a suicidal Deccan side whose only intention was to prove how comfortable they could look in the initial stages of a tough chase- Chennai will have it considerably tougher against a Royal side that shows no signs of slowing down. They even have their lucky mascots in place now. Dangerous.
 
Distance monster
 
With Albie Morkel, Jakati and Bollinger making up for the lack of wickets by Ashwin and Randiv- the team seems to have struck a balance where they can easily afford two of their bowlers having an odd-day (or week). 3 off-spinners for the ‘middle overs’ and 2 of the better T20 seamers in the World to start and end an innings has Dhoni comfortably perching himself on a Sofa behind the stumps- casually dropping a few catches and missing a few stumpings. 
 
What is life without mistakes, eh? Unless you’re Kamran Akmal. Or any Pakistani player at the moment. 
 
Player to watch out for: Albie Morkel
The original all-rounder from South Africa has finally found his range- so much so that teeing off Ishant Sharma became a mere formality by the end of the 6-ball onslaught that took Chennai to a winning total. 12 runs being awarded to each of those shots would have still been injustice. Getting some late swing with the ball in hand is only helping matters for this wicket-taking-expensive (also known as Ajit Agarkarisis) bowler. 
 
Rajasthan Royals: (Winners 2008)
 
The ex is back in town. And jitters are going to run down the spines of many a Wada-sambhar –savouring local. 
When the Royals last beat Chennai in a ‘big game’, it was the final of the inaugural 2008 edition- and it went down to the last ball. How often does Dhoni lose from there? To be fair, the Royals were the only ‘best team of the league’ to actually win the whole tournament hands down- and were well-deserved victors of a path-breaking format.
 
They may not be as good- but they still have that captain (and hence coach and management) consistently inspiring them to look mediocre on paper but play like Deceptive Devils. (Delhi should consider this name- for entirely different reasons) Giving Pune a slight sniff on Sunday only to pull the rug sensationally from under their feet in a couple of overs of Taylor-induced madness (could be Jermaine too), will prove the Royals prowess and sheer confidence while chasing down scores. Johan Botha has had a huge role to play in their uprising, and Tait could find himself retired from another form of cricket very soon.
 
I’m the Grinch that stole Tait’s X’mas
 
And of course, as mentioned time and again, Watson is due. For that big one. Warne will be hoping he does not have IPL 2012 in his sights for that.
 
Player to watch out for: Shane Watson
Is this the game Watson makes his presence well and truly felt in this batting-light tournament? A spark is needed to light up TV screens, to bring back the art (or violence) of skilful destructive batting. Will he finally break the shackles knowing that Ross the boss has broken free too?
 
Or will be resemble someone like Sehwag’s extended cluelessness (combined with momentary madness) in a coloured jersey?
MVP 2008 will be desperate to prove a point against the Champions. So what if he has already proved a point on the International stage time and again?
 
Elementary, my dear Watson. Simply not enough nowadays.
 
Prediction:
 
RR pulling off a coup could actually be great for this league and make things very interesting for the second half. But CSK is high on confidence and class- and with even one of their 20 (or so it seems) batsmen firing, RR could have a tough chase (either way) on hands.
 
A Super King trumping a Royal- might indeed be the way of the day.
 
If only the ad agency that came up with the Rajasthan name was a bit more precise. 
 

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