JAIPUR (TIP): What started as a former captain’s demand is now a habit for the Rajasthan Royals. Shane Warne, who led the Royals to the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL) crown in 2008, insisted that his troops turn the Sawai Mansingh Stadium into a fortress. It has been two years since the Australia spin wizard bid the IPL and Royals adieu, but breaching the Jaipur stadium is still a Herculean task for the opposition.
Now under the leadership of Rahul Dravid, the Royals are in the middle of an invincible run. Prior to the four victories in the ongoing Champions League T20, the side registered eight consecutive wins in the IPL. The only team in the CLT20 to have played all their games at home this year, Rajasthan refused to let the opportunity slip. Besides the Highveld Lions and Perth Scorchers, they have scalped two other major outfits. By brushing aside the defending IPL champions, Mumbai Indians, with relative ease and snapping the 15- match winning-streak of the Otago Volts, the Royals have exemplified the notion of home advantage in sport. What the winning run also meant was that the Royals earned the right to play their semifinal at home. Apart from the overwhelming crowd support, it is the familiarity that breeds success. At the nets on Thursday, the players chatted with the net bowlers and groundsmen. It was as if all the parties were aware of the team’s recipe for success.
In fact, the 12-game unbeaten run at home will worry the opposition, and Chennai Super Kings coach, Stephen Fleming, did sound concerned. “We would have loved to play the Mumbai Indians in the semifinals. But you cannot pick and choose and we are now heading to Rajasthan,” he said, before adding, “There is no illusion as we know their record at home. We all know how tough it would be for us.” Fleming ‘s side was caught unawares with the Trinidad and Tobago spinners making them struggle. To add to their discomfort, Royals’ Ashok Meneria said, “I think it could be a headache for Chennai to play us in Jaipur, where we have not lost the last 12 games, which is a big deal.”