Rajasthan Royals vs Otago Volts | Tuesday 01 October | Jaipur | 16:30
While the final semi-final spot hangs in the balance in Group B, the same uncertainty pervades Group A. The home side in this encounter are already through, the Royals keeping their unbeaten record in 2013 in Jaipur intact throughout this tournament. The surprise package of the competition, New Zealand’s Otago Volts, will book their place in the next round with a victory here. This is no easy task and if they slip up, the Mumbai Indians will need to beat the eliminated Perth Scorchers, at the same time aiming to better the already impressive net run rate of the Volts. While Otago will be confident after a string of wins, the Royals will not be giving up a game at their fortress without a fight.
Rajasthan Royals 6/10
Otago Volts 13/10
The Royals have marched their way into the semi-finals of this competition based on the fact that this year, they are almost unbeatable in Jaipur. Luckily enough, all of the group stage fixtures have been based there. It has been the strength in their batting lineup which has blown away the competition, as well as impressive individual bowling performances. Despite Rahul Dravid struggling for runs at the top of the order, the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson, Shane Watson, Stuart Binny and Brad Hodge have all proved match-winners. While 18-year-old Samson took the game away from both the Mumbai Indians and Perth Scorchers, it was 41-year-old Pravin Tambe that scuppered the Lions. Having never played first-class cricket and only featuring in a handful of T20s for the Royals, the leg spinner bagged 4/15 in three overs. Kevon Cooper took 4/18 against the Scorchers, his yorkers finding the mark like homing missiles. In Otago, they meet a side who can match their exploits with the bat and play with an attitude characteristic of the perennial underdog. This time, the Royals will be required to scrap.
The New Zealand outfit dispatched of all competitors in the qualifying rounds, defying common expectation. They’ve exceeded even their own pre-tournament notions, recording wins against the Scorchers and the Lions to put themselves in contention for a semi-final spot. They’ve been on an extraordinary run in the T20 game, with fourteen wins in a row, excluding their super over victory over the South Africans. In a game where they looked down and out for the most, they clawed their way back from compromising positions time and time again, showing both strength and belief. Against the Scorchers they dominated proceedings, Neil Broom bludgeoning 117 from 56 deliveries amid a total of 242/4 from 20 overs. Derek de Boorder has been in terrific form, as well as Ryan ten Doeschate. Their weakness may lie in the bowling department. So far, it hasn’t been apparent that they can reign it in and keep things tight when the opposition get a hold of them. Against the Royals, this skill will be of utmost importance.
It has already been stated that the Rajasthan Royals don’t lose easily in Jaipur. The pitch is a little bit quicker than the rest in India and the spinners seem to skid the ball on rather than get bounce and turn. There’s a 40% chance of scattered thunderstorms.
BEST: Top Rajasthan Royals Batsman, Sanju Samson 9/2
Having recorded two half-centuries in the tournament so far and averaging 58.00, the young Samson has been a steady revelation for the Royals at three. Composed and relying on timing, Samson is a serious prospect for the future. I expect him to cash in here.
VERDICT: Rajasthan Royals 6/10
In my opinion, I can’t see the Royals’ batsmen being too troubled by the Volts. Although both batting lineups are stacked in terms of form and power, it’s the bowling attack of the Royals that leads me to the verdict. I feel they are more composed and able to choke runs in pressure situations. The Royals to continue their march to glory.
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