Chennai: While the IPL is only into its fifth season, the teams have already developed different reputations for what can be expected from them on the field. Chennai Super Kings are known for their ability to withstand pressure, fight back and win from weak positions. Rajasthan Royals are known for making the most of their comparatively thin resources and competing with the more power-packed sides. Both sides have displayed these traits this season as well. Having started shakily, Super Kings have managed to position themselves in the middle of the points table despite clearly being nowhere near their best as yet. Bolstered by new arrivals like Owais Shah and Brad Hodge, Royals have been one of the sides to beat so far.
Super Kings' decision to leave out M Vijay and promote S Badrinath to partner Faf du Plessis at the top of the order provided them a solid base in their previous game against Pune Warriors. Their medium-pacers and spinners then choked the Warriors batsmen. Super Kings will start slightly in front at home but Royals will be confident having chased 197 in their previous game against Deccan Chargers.
Players to watch
R Ashwin owes his early fame to the IPL, with strong shows in the 2010 and 2011 seasons. His lack of penetration at the international level recently has carried over into the IPL, with only two wickets this season from six games. His economy-rate, though, hasn't suffered but he needs to strike more as his side's lead spinner.
With an unbeaten century and a 98, Ajinkya Rahane has impressed with his uninhibited yet orthodox hitting. Both knocks have come on surfaces in Jaipur and Bangalore where the ball has come on; it usually does not in Chennai, and it will be interesting to see how Rahane adapts.
Royals lost both their games to Super Kings in 2011. Michael Hussey and Suresh Raina easily chased 148 in Chennai while Super Kings' batting power was too much for Royals in Jaipur.
Stats and trivia
Before the start of this IPL, Rahane had 583 runs at a strike-rate of 110 from 42 Twenty20s. He has made 304 at 146.15 from six games so far.
Since losing the 2008 IPL final to Royals, Super Kings have won five of the next six games against them .
"Rajasthan Royals have always been considered the underdogs. At the start of the tournament, we're never considered a strong team by the oppositions, and it is the same case this time... [But] I believe this is our strongest team in all five seasons.", Royals medium-pacer Siddharth Trivedi