Arun Gopalakrishnan in Mumbai
Preview: Match 18 - Rajasthan Royals vs Otago Volts
RR, OT battle for top honours in Group A
Match 18 of the Karbonn Smart CLT20 2013 promises a high-voltage clash between the Rajasthan Royals and the Otago Volts. Both teams are unbeaten thus far in the competition. A victory for either team will mean a table-topping finish in Group A.
But there is a little more at stake for the Volts than the Royals who are already through to the semi-finals. The Volts currently have 10 points from three matches and they will need to win this match to confirm their semi-final spot. If they lose this match, they will have to await the outcome of the match between Mumbai Indians and Perth Scorchers to find out if they progress to the next round.
Both teams must be feeling confident – albeit for different reasons. The Rajasthan Royals have always been a very formidable force when playing at home. They have now won their last 11 matches at home and know how to best exploit conditions there.
The Otago Volts are on a roll; they have won their last 15 T20 matches and have the belief they can win from any situation. That confidence in the players came to the fore on Sunday when they recovered from a dire situation to force a tie in regulation play first – and subsequently winning in the Super Over – against the Highveld Lions.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013, 8 pm IST
Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur
Rajasthan Royals are very limited in terms of reputed match-winners in the T20 format. The one player who has that reputation of blowing away oppositions single-handedly is Shane Watson. However, the team has abundant talent and potential, and they make the most of both those virtues. Rahul Dravid has been inspirational as captain, getting the best out of the young and even the old. Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson and Stuart Binny have been thrust into pressure situations and have shown they can handle tense situations. On the bowling front, James Faulkner has proved just why he is so highly-rated by the former Rajasthan Royals skipper Shane Warne. The Australian has played 22 matches for the Royals and has been a consistent wicket-taker; he has picked up at least a wicket in 18 of the 22 matches he has played. The one other player who has grabbed his chance with both hands is the leg-spinner Pravin Tambe. Despite age not being on his side, the 42-year-old has picked up six wickets in his last two outings and will be expected to strike again.
There has been a different performer for the Otago Volts in each of their five wins this season. The side is brimming with confidence and players believe nothing is a lost cause. The abilities of Brendon McCullum and Ryan ten Doeschate are well documented, given how successful they have been at the international level. However, what has served the team in good stead is the success of the stars-in-the-making – like Neil Broom, Hamish Rutherford and Jimmy Neesham. The Kiwi side has a steady bowling attack at best – as against a formidable bowling line-up – and hence the onus will be on the batsmen to win matches.
Of the 20 matches played in the Karbonn Smart CLT20 2013 (including the Qualifiers), the captain winning the toss has opted to field in 19.
The result of this match will determine the future of the two teams. The winner of this match will feature in the first semi-final at home on October 4. If Rajasthan Royals lose this match, they will feature in the second semi-final scheduled to be played at Delhi on October 5. If the Otago Volts lose this match, they will hope the Perth Scorchers can defeat the Mumbai Indians, so they can finish second, and hence play the second semi-final at Delhi.