Chennai Super Kings host Rajasthan Royals in the only Indian Premier League (IPL) game scheduled for Monday. Both teams are level on eight points but the two-time champions have a better Net Run Rate (NRR). A win in this game will put one of these sides level with Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad at the top of the table.
Where to Watch Live
Play starts at 3.30pm BST. Live coverage is on ITV 4 and ITV 4 HD. Follow the match live, via text updates, on ESPN Cricinfo.
CSK have made a good start to IPL 2013, with four wins from six games. It should have been five from six but for a shocking defeat to bottom-of-the-table Pune Warriors, away from home. MS Dhoni's men are generally slow starters to an IPL season but hit top gear towards the end of the group stages and they seem to doing just that again.
The team from South India come into this game after a thrilling four wicket win against Kolkata Knight Riders, the defending champions. The visitors were languishing at 89/6, in pursuit of 120 to win with only 19 balls left. However, a whirlwind cameo by all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja (36 off 14) ensured a dramatic win.
CSK have now won four of the last five games, since opening the season with a defeat to Mumbai Indians and the most successful team in IPL history is a strong favourite to win a third crown.
The one point of concern for Dhoni could be inconsistency by senior batsmen. Only days after his top order hit 169/6 off 20 overs, at Delhi, Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina, Subramaniam Badrinath and Dhoni himself failed; the quartet managed only 24 runs between them against Kolkata.
The bowling appears well settled, though, with South African duo Albie Morkel and Chris Morris ably backed by India senior international Ravichandran Ashwin and youngster Mohit Sharma. West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Bravo is in good form too and the all-round contributions from Jadeja have helped plug leaks.
Meanwhile, CSK's Monday night visitors are the 2008 champions but the Royals have fallen away in recent seasons. This year though, under the leadership of former India senior Rahul Dravid, the team looks like serious title contenders.
Rajasthan may be coming into this match after a heavy defeat to Bangalore but that was only a first defeat in three games. It could be crucial, given how quickly momentum can change in the IPL, but the Royals will be confident of surprising Chennai in their backyard.
Like CSK, the Royals problems may lie with the batting. Australian big-hitter Shane Watson has blown hot and cold so far, following a 31 off 25 balls against Mumbai with a single-digit contribution in the last game. India youngster Ajinkya Rahane has shown promise but he needs more experience and time. Dravid, coming in at No 3, really has only Stuart Binny, Brad Hodge and maybe Dishant Yagnik to count on for runs, meaning Watson has a major role to play.
The bowlers have been reasonable, with Ajit Chandila one of the better surprises to emerge from the side. The youngster picked up 2/6 against Mumbai (scalping both Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar) and restricted Bangalore to only 21 runs from his four overs in the last game, in a match where they finished with a run rate of 6.89.
Chennai Super Kings
- Last Five (most recent first): W W L W W
- Last Match: Kolkata Knight Riders lost to Chennai Super Kings by four wickets
- Last Five (most recent first): L W W L W
- Last Match: Bangalore Royal Challengers beat Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets
CSK have a full-strength squad available but Sri Lankans Nuwan Kulasekara and Akila Dananjaya will not be eligible, given the ban in place by the state government. The batting relies on Hussey, Dhoni and Jadeja at the moment and they need Raina and Vijay to fire some big runs.
Rahane and Watson will continue to open for the Royals and they too need to find consistency. Rajasthan rely on their openers far more than CSK do on theirs and this could be a shortcoming Dhoni looks to exploit.