Friday, May 23, 2008

Chennai look to seal semi-final berth

On the threshold of making it to semi-finals, the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings will be keen to seal their berth among the last four as they take on a second-string Rajasthan Royals in an Indian Premier League match on Saturday.

Losing their last home-leg tie against Bangalore Royal Challengers must have hurt the side badly as they messed up a modest run chase to let slip a golden chance of reaching the semis the other night.

The host batsmen would be cautious against committing the hara-kiri that compounded the problem for them and lingered their semifinals aspirations further.

The Super Kings hope not to repeat the mistake of taking their opponents lightly, even though Rajasthan Royals' captain Shane Warne is planning to field untested players as the side has already made it into the last-four stage.

But, the bigger headache for the Super Kings is that a win over Rajasthan will not ensure a place in the semis as they have to await the result of match between Mumbai Indians and Deccan Chargers.
The Chennai-based team is presently placed third on the table with 14 points from 12 matches (seven wins and five losses) and Mumbai Indians (12 points), also looking to make the cut for the semis, have three more matches to go in the league stage.

Super Kings' assistant coach and administrator V B Chandrasekar admitted that the team was indeed under pressure after they were defeated by the Bangalore outfit.

"In any way we will be under pressure after losing the last game. It does not matter whether we play a second string or the first eleven of Jaipur team," he said.

"It may be a tight rope walk but we cannot keep losing and hope to qualify for the semifinals. We have to pull up our socks and win against Rajasthan tomorrow and beat the Deccan Chargers too (on May 27)," he added.

Chandrasekar said they had learnt a few lessons from the tie against Bangalore and would need to put up a flawless show.

"There cannot be any changes in our strategy. We need a win tomorrow. One bad show put us in this situation but lessons have been learnt from the loss. Parthiv Patel or Stephen Fleming should have carried on. It was also not easy for batsmen when the ball was not coming on to the bat."

Assessing the Rajasthan side, the former national selector said, "Anything they have tried, they have found success. Everything clicked well for Warne including the changes in batting order. They are going along with the stream doing things spontaneously, which is something worth watching and learning."

"They are having a dream run. Somewhere it has got to end. Twenty20 is a dangerous game. We are hoping it will end with us," he added.

Warne, on the other hand, said before the knockout phase, he would like to do some experimentation and keep more options open.

"Having made the semifinals, we have an opportunity to try out different combinations and give chances to our players, who were benched in the previous matches.

"We should be giving Yusuf Pathan and Ravinder Jadeja a few more overs to bowl. We are likely to experiment to give more chances to youngsters in the team and also change our batting order a bit," he said.