New Delhi: Safely through to the semi-finals, Rajasthan Royals now eye a top-place finish in Group A with another win against Otago Volts when the two teams meet on Tuesday at RR's happy hunting home ground in Jaipur - the Sawai Mansingh Stadium.
The top slot in Group A is imperative for Rajasthan and it will help them on two counts. 1) It will help them avoid the dangerous Chennai Super Kings in the semi-finals and 2) they will play their semi-final at home, where their unbeaten streak has now reached 11 consecutive games.
But if Otago manage to bring the Jaipur fortress down, it will prove fatal for the Mumbai Indians. A win for the New Zealanders will mean that their points tally will reach 14, which Mumbai, who have just 6 points, won't be able to cross even if they win their last group encounter.
So a lot is riding on the result of this match, which makes it a big one in the context of who joins Rajasthan in the semi-finals from this group.
Rajasthan's thumping nine-wicket win against Perth Scorchers once again proved that they have mastered the home conditions. This time the bowling was led by Kevon Cooper, who came back with a four-wicket bang after going wicketless in the first two matches. Pravin Tambe has held the spin department well, while James Faulkner and Vikramjeet Malik continue to impress.
Rahul Dravid failed with the bat against Perth, but Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson were in cruise control with respective fifties en route a comprehensive win. Shane Watson, Stuart Binny and Brad Hodge are all in good touch and playing their roles to perfection.
Otago were lucky to win against Highveld Lions even after a tie in the Super Over. Led by Brendon McCullum, the team has looked in good shape ever since they played their first Qualifier. Their attacking intent led to impressive victories against Perth Scorchers and Lions, other than the two points they earned in a washout at Ahmedabad.
Neil Broom, Brendon McCullum and Ryan ten Doeschate lead their batting unit, while James Neesham played a match-winning knock against the Lions. Otago will hope at least two of those four deliver again on Tuesday to ease them through to the last-four stage.
Neesham has been more than useful with the ball as well, along with Michael Bracewell, Neil Wagner and Ian Butler. The spin department has been handled well by allrounder Nathan McCullum.
Having said that, it won't be easy for Otago to overturn Rajasthan's winning run at home, but the Kiwis have the form to back their quest to do that and book a date in the semi-finals
Rajasthan Royals: 1 Ajinkya Rahane, 2 Rahul Dravid (capt), 3 Shane Watson, 4 Sanju Samson (wk), 5 Stuart Binny, 6 Brad Hodge, 7 Ashok Menaria, 8 James Faulkner, 9 Kevon Cooper, 10 Vikramjeet Malik, 11 Rahul Shukla
Otago Volts: 1 Brendon McCullum (capt), 2 Hamish Rutherford, 3 Neil Broom, 4 Nathan McCullum, 5 Ryan ten Doeschate, 6 James Neesham, 7 Derek de Boorder (wk), 8 Michael Bracewell, 9 Sam Wells, 10 Neil Wagner, 11 Ian Butler