Semis'-1: Rajasthan Royals hold slight edge

Published: Thursday, May 29, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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Mumbai: Unexpected table toppers Rajasthan Royals would be looking to continue their winning momentum, when they take on Delhi Daredevils in the high-octane contest in the first semifinals of the Indian Premier League (IPL), at the Wankhede stadium here on Friday.

The two teams, which finished first and fourth respectively in the preliminary phase of the Twenty20 league, look evenly matched, for a top-drawer stuff in front of a capacity crowd at the Wankhede Stadium.

The team that holds its nerves better and grabs the chances that come its way would go through to the summit clash against the winners of the second semifinal, on May 31, between Punjab King's XI and Chennai Super Kings.

The second semifinal is also to be held at the Wankhede, while the final is scheduled on June 1 at the D Y Patil Stadium, having a bigger crowd capacity.

The Shane Warne-led Rajasthan, impregnable at home in Jaipur, had finished with only three losses from their 14 preliminary phase ties and have a 1-1 head-to-head record against the Daredevils, led by Virender Sehwag, who got into the last four with seven wins and 15 points to their credit.

Both had lost their matches to hosts Mumbai Indians when they visited the metro, earlier in the ties held at D Y Patil. Both must be wishing fervently that a change in venue for this knock-out tie would bring in happy tidings.

Both the teams have depended on their top-order to fire well and pile up a big total, while middle orders of both the sides looked a bit under-prepared when chips were down.

They would be keen to topple the top three rival batsmen cheaply, to gain a big advantage. Tracks at the Wankhede for the IPL have helped the seam bowlers by providing lateral movement and extra bounce and someone of the calibre of Delhi Daredevils' champion bowler Glenn McGrath would relish rolling his arm over here.

The battle between McGrath and Rajasthan's explosive opening duo Graeme Smith (416 runs) and Swapnil Asnodkar could be crucial to the game's outcome.

The same applies to the Tanvir-Watson-Patel combine, who will be up against the marauding Delhi opening pair of Gautam Gambhir (523) and Sehwag (403), as well as another in-form batsman at number three, Shikhar Dhawan.

Tanvir, with his extra quick bowling arm action similar to Pakistani legend Wasim Akram, has been a real revelation in the IPL and has hardly been collared by any rival batting line-up, indicated by his superb haul of 21 wickets at just 10 runs per victim.

The left armer has been outstanding both in the beginning and at the death and is a major threat that needs to be negotiated well by the Delhi batsmen, who did not play against him in the previous two clashes.

Rajasthan possess a better spin attack in the great Warne and his understudies Yousuf Pathan and Dinesh Salunkhe, while Delhi depends on Amit Mishra, for most part, with Sehwag chipping in with his off breaks. However, seam bowlers are expected to play a bigger role at the Wankhede.

Delhi have had a sizeable break of five days going into the tie while Rajasthan, without a few key players including Warne, were outclassed by Punjab King's XI yesterday.

Winning the toss and fielding first has become the order of the day for matches, which commence at 2000 hrs and the trend is likely to continue on Friday.

It has been largely rain-free so far in the city, barring light drizzles, and the IPL authorities must be hoping that the weather remains clear over the next few days.


Rajasthan Royal: Shane Warne (capt), Graeme Smith, Swapnil Asnodkar, Niraj Patel, Shane Watson, Rajendra Jadeja, Dinesh Salunkhe, Aditya Angle, Mohammad Kaif, Kamran Akmal (wk), Sumit Khatri, Taruwar Kohli, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Parag More, Morne Morkel, Pankaj Singh, Munaf Patel, Yusuf Pathan, Mahesh Rawat, Anup Revandkar, Jaydev Shah, Sohail Tanvir, Siddharth Trivedi and Younis Khan.

Delhi Daredevils: Virender Sehwag (capt), Rajat Bhatia, AB de Villiers, Shikhar Dhawan, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Gautam Gambhir, Brett Geeves, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Glenn McGrath, Farveez Maharoof, Yo Mahesh, Mithun Manhas, Amit Mishra, Mohammad Asif, Yogesh Nagar, Pradeep Sangwan, Shoaib Malik, Mayank Tehlan, Manoj Tiwary and Tejashwi Yadav.



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