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Friday, 4 October 2013

Harsha Bhogle: CSK Favourites; Leadership RR's Strength


It will be a battle to watch out for as MS Dhoni’s 2010 champions take on Rahul Dravid’s men who are yet to be beaten at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in 2013, in the first semi-final of the Karbonn Smart Champions League Twnety20. (Also Read: CSK: CLT20 2013)

With the semi-finalists decided only on the last day of the league phase, the tournament has kept interests piqued till the very end. Toppled from their pole position by Trinidad & Tobago in Group B, the Chennai Super Kings will be pitted against Group A toppers Rajasthan Royals on Friday evening. (Also Read: RR: CLT20 2013)

To examine and evaluate the strengths and the weaknesses of these teams ahead of their clash we caught up with commentator and cricket expert Harsh Bhogle to give us an insight into the semi-final. 

Here’s what Harsha Bhogle had to say: 

The Royals – It’s a ground where they have won four games on the trot so they must me doing something right. In the IPL they made it to the Qualifiers. Their biggest strength is assigning roles to each player. Each player knows what is expected of him. Stuart Binny knows to come in and bat in a certain way, Brad Hodge knows to go and finish, James Faulkner knows to bowl in the end overs, Kevon Cooper knows to bowl in the middle and mix, and Ajinkya Rahane knows that don’t lose wickets at the start. So their roles are clearly defined. Shane Watson is the enforcer; he will go and play brilliant shots. And if there is a crisis in the bowling, you have four overs ready from Watson. He can bowl with the new ball, he can bowl in the end. So for a crisis, Watson is the person. (Also Read: CSK vs RR - M30 Report & Stats: IPL 2013)

Their biggest strength is their leadership. I think Rahul Dravid now is playing for the enjoyment of others. He is having a lot of fun. All his personal ambitions have been met and so he can give freely and that is important for a leader as well. And that is why he is being a very good leader because he has been a natural giver but also he has no personal ambitions left in his game now. So he is able to concentrate entirely on his side and he is leading the side beautifully. 

Dravid’s surprises – Rahul Shukla, Vikramjeet Malik and Pravin Tambe: He uses them well and because they are always one of six or one of seven bowlers and not one of five bowlers. So even if they bowl just two overs, they are still okay. They always have someone handy if the bowler has a bad day. 

RR vs CSK: I think the one weakness that they might have is in slow bowling where Pravin Tambe has done well for them but against a side like Chennai Super Kings where lot of the middle order play spin very well I may be different. You have got people like Suresh Raina and Michael Hussey in the top order, and both are left-handers. Then there is Ravindra Jadeja below. So this leg-spinner may not have the experience of playing at that level that much. They might be a little slow, little less on slow bowling options. But like Rahul Dravid said, they understand the conditions very well. They know what is a good score and what kind of field placements will work because they know where the ball goes and how the track plays. CSK hasn’t gone there since the IPL when they lost. So I think their second weakness is that Chennai Super Kings have just too much of a pedigree. If two or three people on the big day just get it right, the match will go CSK’s way. They are full of match-winners so that is the other issue.  (Also Read: RR vs CSK - M61 Report & Stats: IPL 2013)

The Super Kings: CSK is team that on paper doesn’t seem to have any weakness at all and yet they came up with the most mystifying performance against Trinidad & Tobago. Sometimes when you have too many match-winners, you almost take things for granted. Hussey has had a couple of good innings but he doesn’t seem to be in the same dominating form and Murali Vijay is struggling. So they are losing wickets at the top of the order. The second concern is the form of Jadeja. He normally gives them solid runs at the end and he bowls four overs; his bowling has been nice. But against T&T in the last game he went for runs. His economy-rate in this tournament is around 12 runs per over. So I think that extra bowling option is becoming an issue. But actually with Albie Morkel, Mohit Sharma and Dwayne Bravo the bowling is otherwise fine. 

CSK will start as favourites because they have so many match-winners. MS Dhoni, Raina can win you a game. So my temptation is always to think of CSK as champions. I don’t see any major weakness. They look like a team full of stars and someone will deliver on some day. They have enough bowling options. Against T&T Raina bowled four overs when Jadeja was not in form. 

What CSK needs to watch out for: Sometimes CSK can get caught in playing too slowly at the start and not getting enough runs on the board and leaving too much for the end… sometimes. We have seen that in some games. Because Morkel, Bravo, Dhoni and Jadeja, inevitably one for them will fire. It is almost as if they are convinced that whatever happens, they will get runs in the end. And some days that may not happen. 

What the Royals need to do: Royals need to bowl really tight and really well. 140-150 runs they can chase down. Because they have someone like Watson who has had an okay tournament till now, on the big day you want him to be the match-winner. When RR is chasing, you are always a little uncertain because with Watson, Binny and Hodge in the middle, they are always uncertain on how much they can score at the end and they like chasing. So a good idea will be CSK winning the toss give them to chase. 

RR have been unbeaten in Jaipur in 2013, so what CSK needs to do: It is the sheer confidence that RR comes with, so get early wickets and push them on the back foot early, because they don’t lose wickets when they follow their game plan. Rahane ensures that they don’t lose wickets early and then their game plan starts to kick in. So put RR in to bat and get early wickets that might affect the Royals. 

Conditions in Jaipur: The pitch and the outfield are so good that playing under lights, etc won’t be a factor. It is now my favourite cricket ground in India. It’s got something for everybody. The bowlers who are hitting the deck are getting bounce, so I don’t think the conditions will favour one side over another. 

The pick of the teams: On a knockout day the side with the bigger stars has the plus. The guys who have done it before at the knockout stage will make a difference. Because it’s a knockout, it’s CSK.

source: clt20.com


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