By Sanchit Gupta

India made a laughing stock of an exceptional Australian batting effort to post 359-5 in the alloted 50 overs by spriting to their target in just 43.3 overs and winning the match by 9 wickets,all thanks to 3 incredible innings from Rohit Sharma(141 of 123 balls), Shikhar Dhawan(95 of 86 balls) and Virat Kohli(100 of 52 balls).

The Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur, Rajasthan which is home to two Australian players,Shane Watson and James Faulkner who play for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL was treated to an absolute run feast as over 700 runs were scored and much to the delight of the home fans,The Indian Team came out triumphant.It wasnt a day when a bowler could proudly say the fact that he was a "bowler" as Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the only player on either side to end the game with an economy rate of less than 6 and only 4 wickets were taken by the bowlers in the whole course of the match.

Earlier, Australia won the toss and once again chose to bat which has been their strategy all through the series.Both teams were unsurprisingly unchanged for the match.India's decision of not changing their bowling combination backfired as they were clobbered for 359 runs in 50 overs with each of the top 5 Australian batsman scoring a 50 atleast. A steady opening partnership between Finch(50 of 53 balls) and Hughes(83 of 103 balls) set the tone for a big score. Shane Watson returned to form with a fluent 53 of 50 balls.Glenn Maxwell added more woes to the Indian camp with his knock of 53 of 32 balls.But,the skipper,Bailey was the man who took his side to a huge score by batting till the end,smashing 92 of just 50 balls.

India's bowling continued to be mediocre and wayward with hardly a memorable delivery bowled all day.Australia smashed 12 sixed and 36 fours with the Indian team appearing clueless on how to stop the onslaught.

Chasing a massive 360 to win,India's openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma started cautiously but still managed to keep the required rate within bounds.The duo added 176 for the opening wicket in just 26 overs before Dhawan was caught behind off the bowling of Faulkner.Kohli came in to bat at number three with India still needing another 184 to chase down Australia's mammoth 359 run target.He along with Rohit was involved in an unbroken 186-run stand for the second wicket as India reached the target with 39 balls to spare.Virat Kohli scored the fatest hundred by an Indian batsman in ODIs as he smashed an unbeaten 100 off just 52 balls,overtaking Virender Sehwag's record of a hundred off 60 balls that he made against New Zealand in 2009.In his record-breaking knock, Kohli stroked eight boundaries and seven sixes.His shots were pure cricketing strokes and not slogs that one generally associates with power-hitting and limit over cricket.

India's run chase of 360 was the best ever by an Indian side and the second best of all time.

The teams will now head to Mohali wehere they will resume the battle with the series tied at 1-1.

More than 2 billion people would be in a dilemma today, on whom to support. For about a decade and half they have seen these 2 legends play for team India, but well this time they are facing off in the finals of Clt20 and only 1 of them can take their team to victory. It’s God vs The Wall, or Sachin vs Dravid, or we can call it Mumbai vs Rajasthan. 

Whichever team wins, this match is going to be an absolute nail biter. These 2 teams have been 2 of the best teams of the tournament and they have earned their place here in the finals. The match being in Delhi, which is a neutral venue is a good call as none of the teams would be having the home advantage. That being said, Rajasthan are very unfortunate to lose their finisher, Hodge to injury and that may be a huge blow for them. The youngsters must step up for RR, whereas the Mumbai batting line up looks in very good form.

Team News
The Mumbai team management made a good call by dropping Maxwell for Johnson in the last game, and they hope Johnson can deliver if he is picked to play in the finals too. Apart from Johnson, rest of the bowling attach looks solid with the Dhawan’s and the Ojha’s and the Bhajji’s performing decently. He batting on the other hand is their strong point. Now that Sachin is back in form, The Rajasthan bowlers would need to pull out something special to make sure they can run this Mumbai side over.

Rajasthan seem to be hit badly by the injury to Hodge, but well 1 player cannot be the reason for a loss or a victory. Their bowling looks pretty decent with Tambe, Cooper and Watson being in good form, but it is their batting where they need to pull up their socks. Dravid is not in form, Rahane acts as an anchor but plays a little too slow, Binny and Yagnik are inconsistent, which leaves too much work on the shoulders of Watson and Samson. They need to play together as a unit, and if they can there is no stopping them.

Probable Teams
Mumbai Indians: Sachin Tendulkar, Dwayne Smith, Dinesh Karthik(wk), Rohit Sharma (c), Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu, Harbhajan Singh, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Mitchell Johnson, Rishi Dhawan, Pragyan Ojha  

X-Factor: For some reason Rohit is bowling Harbhajan mostly in the powerplays which is not what Harbhajan would prefer to do but isn’t resisting to it either. All he wants to do is bowl well and pick wickets regularly, as this is exactly where he can stamp his authority on the selectors and push them to select him in the national team. If he can pick up a couple of wickets early on in this very important game, he would be doing his team a huge favor. A good performance is expected from him, and it is to be seen if he can deliver the goods.

Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Dravid (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson, Shane Watson, Dishant Yagnik (wk), Stuart Binny, Ashok Menaria, James Faulkner, Kevon Cooper, Pravin Tambe, Rahul Shukla/Shaun Tait

X-Factor: In the absence of Brad Hodge, it would be Stuart Binny who has to take up the role of the finisher in the Rajasthan line up. He is an outstanding all-rounder but has been underperforming in the last few games. If there is anyone who can motivate him to perform upto his ability, it is going to be Dravid, and Dravid must make sure Binny is at the top of his game. The son of Roger Binny, Stuart definitely has the potential to win this game for the Royals, and if he does so it would be the perfect farewell he could give to the one and only legend – The Wall, Dravid.

Expected Result:  Close game, Mumbai Win

Match Preview: Super Kings vs Rajasthan Royals @ Jaipur

Everyone expected CSK and RR to be 2 of the strongest teams in this competition, but who knew that they would have to face off in the semi-finals. RR have one of the best records at home with them being unbeaten in 12 consecutive games that they have played in Jaipur, but if there is some team that can break the record it has to be the Super Kings.

Both teams have a similar team structure, with there being some strong batsmen, a couple of good spinners, 2 good pacers and a quality all-rounder in each team too. Now it all comes down to which guy will put his hand up and perform on the day. It’s going to be a nail biter if it comes down to the star player from each team, Watson and Dhoni. Both captains are crowd favorites and at the same time calm customers, but at the end only 1 would have a smile on their face.

Team News
CSK have a strong team filled with international stars, but cricket is not just a numbers game. They have a solid opening pair, but they have not played as a solid pair throughout the tournament. When Hussey fails, Vijay performs and vice-versa. Other than that, if Jadeja and Mohit contribute a little more with the ball, Dhoni could have a big smile on his face at the end of the match.

Rahul Dravid has done an exceptional job in putting together a team from nowhere. A young wicketkeeper in Samson playing with a 41 year old Tambe, and both players being the top performers in their departments, this could only happen in Rajasthan Royals. If RR were to lose today, this would be the last time we get to see Dravid in the colored jersey. That being said, their record at home has been really good and 1 or 2 of their batsmen stand up in every game, like earlier it was Samson and Rahane and in the last game we got to see a gem of an innings from the old fox, Hodge.

Probable Teams
Chennai Super Kings: Michael Hussey, Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina, Subramaniam Badrinath, Mahendra Dhoni (c) (wk), Ravi Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Albie Morkel, Ravi Ashwin, Mohit Sharma, Jason Holder

X-Factor: Mahendra Dhoni, assumed to be the best captain ever, is going to take field in this very important game and the way he performs today will be very important. If he can bring his midas touch into the game and blast the RR bowlers, there will be no stopping CSK from storming into the finals. A lot will be expected from him, not only in the batting department but even in the bowling department. He has a task in hand, mainly because 2 of his main bowlers Jadeja and Mohit Sharma are not in form.

Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Dravid(c), Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson(wk), Shane Watson, Stuart Binny, Brad Hodge, James Faulkner, Kevon Cooper, Ashok Menaria, Rahul Shukla, Pravin Tambe

X-Factor: Shane Watson had not had the best of tournaments, neither with the bat nor the ball and that is a slight headache for Dravid. However, we all know what he is capable of and if this is his day he can win the match for RR single handedly. He bats at no.4 and also bowls 1st change, both of which are pretty important roles. He would be hoping that the top 3 do not give him a lot of time In the middle, which would mean that RR have already posted a huge total. He would be the hottest pick in user’s fantasy team, and he must perform to prove them right.

Expected Result:  Rajasthan Royals win

The stakes could not get any bigger than this, Otago are on a 15 match winning streak and the Royals are unbeaten at home this entire year (including IPL). Well, one of the winning streaks is going to end at the end of 40 overs, as only 1 team can emerge victorious. This is probably the clash of the Giants, the strongest team from New Zealand up against a team which plays like champions at home.

Both teams have some class players, awesome batsmen, wicket taking bowlers and some of the best all-rounders in the shorter version of the game. It’s the clash of the captains, one who is arguably the best technically skilled player in the world and the other who is like a bomb in the t20 version, who can explode and wreck havoc. The one department where Otago would struggle to match up with the Royals is the spin department. Nathan and Beard against Tambe is really just a 1 sided game all together.

Team News
Rajasthan Royals have a strong and balanced team in all 3 departments. To add to that, they also have a very good opening combination in Rahane and Dravid, but Dravid has not been among the runs lately. Dravid needs to be a little solid, and stay on the wicket for a bit longer. However, where Dravid has not been consistent, Samson has been on the top of his game. In Samson, Watson, Binny and Hodge, the Royals have a solid middle order and to break that open, it would take a hell lot.

Unbeaten in the last 14 games, Otago have a pretty solid team. If it’s not Mccullum’s day, the other guys step up. The team is so good because everyday one or the other guys steps up like Neesham did in the last game. If one of the top 6 could step up tomorrow, it is their game to win. Nathan Mccullum and Nick Beard have a big role to play, and much will depend on their performance.

Probable Teams
Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Dravid (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson (wk), Shane Watson, Stuart Binny, Brad Hodge, Ashok Menaria, James Faulkner, Kevon Cooper, Vikramjeet Malik, Pravin Tambe

X-Factor: If you ever want to see a 41 year old making the youngsters dance, turn on your TV to watch Otago vs Royals. Pravin Tambe is one excellent leg spinner, and with his experience he is the biggest asset that the Royals have. He can turn the ball and pick wickets regularly, which is always a plus for the team. A good spinner is exactly what Otago are missing, and the Royals have a class act in Tambe. If he can get a couple of wickets, he has done an excellent job for his captain, and put his team in a really good position.

Otago: Neil Broom, Hamish Rutherford, Brendon Mccullum (c), Derek de Boorder (wk), Ryan Ten Doeschate, James Neesham, Nathan Mccullum, Ian Butler, Neil Wagner, Nick Beard, James Mcmillan

X-Factor: Brendon Mccullum has had a wayward tournament. He has performed well in 2 matches, but has failed miserably in the other 3. He needs to be more consistent, and if he can do that for the team, Otago would benefit very much. He is definitely the best batsman in the team and being the most experienced player in the team, Mccullum is the guy who can play spin very well. He can turn the game on its head and that is what Otago are expecting from him in very important game against Rajasthan.

Expected Result:  Royals win

There could not be a more 1 sided game predicted than one of the strongest teams in the competition, Royals up against one of the weakest teams in the competition, Scorchers. On top of that, the match is being played at Jaipur, which is a fortress for the Royals and they have been unbeaten here since a while.

The Royals have the perfect team, filled with both experience and youth. They also have 3 really good all-rounder in Watson, Binny and Faulkner who add to the strength of the team. On the other hand, the Scorchers have been hit by so many injuries that their team is full of youngsters, with the exception of Voges and Katich. They do have some good youngsters, but they just don’t seem good enough for them to make sure they progress in this competition.

Team News
The Royals have a pretty strong team, in both the batting department and their bowling looks fresh and strong too. They bat pretty deep till number 9, and also have 7 bowlers who can roll their arm over and that ensures Dravid has enough options throughout the match. The team can do very well with the experience of Dravid, Watson and Tambe, and the youth of Samson, Faulkner, Menaria and Binny. As a unit, particularly when the Royals play in Jaipur, they seem unbeatable and that is a big worry for the Scorchers.

The Perth Scorchers were blown away by the Volts in the last game, and not much is expected out of them this time around either. Cricket is a funny game and surprises do occur, but this one seems unlikely given the fact that the Scorchers are shot of experienced bowlers. If Voges or Katich can step in they might have a slim chance, and they have to capitalize on every small opportunity that the Royals present to them.

Probable Teams
Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Dravid (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson (wk), Shane Watson, Stuart Binny, Brad Hodge, Ashok Menaria, James Faulkner, Kevon Cooper, Vikramjeet Malik, Pravin Tambe.

X-Factor: James Faulkner is one of the best young bowlers in the shortest format of the game. He is a regular wicket taker and at the same time economical at the same time. Faulkner is the go-to man for the captain and whenever he feels the team is in trouble he is the one who would be given the ball. Faulkner is also someone who can bat towards the end of an innings and if needed provide the punch needed to knock out the opposition. He is a class player, and certainly one for the future for both the Royals and Australia.

Scorchers: Liam Davis, Ashton Agar, Simon Katich (c), Adam Voges, Hilton Catwright, Ashton Turner, Tom Triffitt (wk), Joel Paris, Jason Behrendorff, Burt Cockley, Michael Beer

X-Factor: Adam Voges is the only established international cricketer, apart from Katich, in this line up. He is the mainstay of the batting line up and might also have to roll his arm over to get a few breakthroughs. He not only has to play well, but has to share his experience and motivate the others in his team to make sure they perform well as an entire unit.

Expected Result:  Royals win easily