Kimberley:A mouth-watering clash between a consistent batting side and a strategically proficient team awaits when table toppers Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals face off in the Indian Premier League here on Saturday.
There is little to separate between the two teams if their performance in the last couple of matches are to go by although Chennai seemed to be much more consistent in batting and bowling but sloppy in fielding.
Chennai will be aiming to notch up their fifth win on the trot while the Royals would be plotting revenge after losing to the same opponents by 38 runs at Centurion on April 30 and also record their fourth successive victory.
Besides having the same points (11), the two teams have the same number of wins (five), losses (three) and no results (one), the only difference being the net run rate +1.281 for Chennai as against -0.050 for Rajasthan a fact which indicates Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side has done better in batting.
In fact, Chennai have been the most consistent side with their scores in all the matches so far crossing 150 while Rajasthan have struggled to touch the 150 mark though they notched up the IPL second season's highest score of 211 in their second last match.
Rajasthan were also dealt a huge blow by the injury of all-rounder Shane Watson who has been ruled out of IPL after suffering a mild groin injury during Australia's one-off Twenty20 International against Pakistan in Dubai.
Watson, the IPL 2008 player of tournament, would have sored up the inconsistent Rajasthan middle-order besides also strengthening the pace bowling stocks after youngster Kamran Khan was reported for suspect bowling action.
Chennai's batting has been firing all along with retired Australian Matthew Hayden leading the charge and Suresh Raina and Dhoni himself in fine touch. In fact, Chennai has the two current highest scorers in Hayden (378 runs) and Raina (296).
In bowling department, Laxmipathi Balaji has been in fine touch with 11 wickets from seven matches and his accuracy in the death overs has been Chennai's asset.
Veteran Muttiah Muralitharan (seven wickets from seven matches) and little known Shadab Jakati (nine wickets from four matches) have been doing wonders for Chennai and Dhoni can also rely on part-time slow bowler Raina to a great effect as was witnessed against Yuvraj Singh and Mahela Jawardene of Kings XI Punjab on Thursday.
One area of concern for Chennai has been the fielding.
Dhoni was understandably angry with the shoddy fielding of his side against Kings XI Punjab as his players dropped easy catches of key opposition players.
Dhoni and Chennai team management will have to address the sloppiness of their fielders if they want to put pressure on stroke makers like Graeme Smith, Naman Ojha, Yusuf Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja of Rajasthan.
Rajasthan batting, however, can fire anytime with Graeme Smith shaping up to his best form after his 77 against Kings XI Punjab in Durban and explosive Yusuf Pathan having the capability to change a game single handedly.
In bowling, Rajasthan will be facing the prospect of leaving out Amit Singh who was reported for suspect action while Munaf Patel will have to do more than his seven wickets from seven matches.
Warne himself though is capable of pulling something special out of his bag of tricks and can surprise Chennai batsmen.