IPL 2019 | Pitch in Focus as Chennai Look to Carry Momentum vs RR

Cricketnext Staff | Updated: March 30, 2019, 9:23 PM IST
IPL 2019 | Pitch in Focus as Chennai Look to Carry Momentum vs RR

Source: AP

Defending champions Chennai Super Kings began their title defence with convincing wins against Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals. On Sunday (March 31) evening, they will look to make it three out of three against Rajasthan Royals.

All focus though will be on the MA Chidambaram surface. In the opener, a slow track saw them skittle out Virat Kohli’s RCB for 70 before themselves reaching the target in the 18th over on a rank turner. Both MS Dhoni and Kohli had criticized the surface and it remains to be seen how it plays this time around.

Veterans Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir and Dwayne Bravo have been particularly impressive and against Rajasthan, captain Dhoni will once again turn to them with the hope of an encore.

While it is still early days in the competition, CSK will be concerned about their batsmen. Only the likes of Shane Watson, Suresh Raina and Dhoni exuded any confidence against the Delhi Capitals while most looked off-colour in the first game.

CSK is yet to call upon the services of a fourth overseas player and the inconsistency in batting could provide South African captain Faf du Plessis, who is yet to get a look in, with a chance to force his way back into the scheme of things.

The visiting Royals’ fortunes though has been far from similar – they lost both their games before this – first against the Kings XI Punjab, before a David Warner storm blew them away in Hyderabad after Sanju Samson’s fantastic century.

Rajasthan captain Ajinkya Rahane will be happy with their batting performances, but desperately needs the bowlers to step up.

The likes of Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat, Shreyas Gopal and Krishnappa Gowtham are likely to fancy the CSK batting, especially after the thumping they took in their last outing.

It will be a contest between Rajasthan's batting line-up comprising Rahane, Jos Buttler, Steve Smith, Ben Stokes and Samson versus a spin-heavy CSK bowling, but how crucial a role will the pitch play is likely to decide the outcome of the encounter.

Players to Watch Out For

Shane Watson: After scoring a bagful of runs in the recently concluded Pakistan Super League, the former Australian all-rounder has found the going tougher than he would have liked in India. After a duck in the first game at home, Watson helped CSK on the way to a win against Delhi when he top-scored for them with 44. At the top of the order, Watson’s influence can be the difference between a winning score and a shaky batting performance by the three-time champions.

Steve Smith: Back in the mix of things after a year-long break, Smith will be keen to get his act going, especially given how Warner has begun. The experienced batsman is not only due for a big one but also will be crucial in dealing with the in-form bowlers in Tahir, Harbhajan and Bravo. Smith’s only had one go in two games so far and the test against CSK is just the kind of thing that might help him find his touch.

Team News

Chennai Super Kings: Already without the services of South African Lungi Ngidi due to injury, Dhoni’s side was dealt another big blow when England’s David Willey pulled out for the season due to personal reasons. Scott Kuggeleijn, the New Zealand pacer, has been roped in for Ngidi but expect a similar lineup to the previous game as CSK rarely make changes unless absolutely required.

Rajasthan Royals: Ajinkya Rahane, unlike Dhoni, has no injury troubles so far in the tournament and has his full squad available to pick his strongest lineup from. Rahane isn’t known to spring too many surprises as a captain and is likely to stick to the same team as Friday.

Probable XI:

Chennai Super Kings: Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (w/c), Faf du Plessis, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir

Rajasthan Royals: Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson, Steve Smith, Ben Stokes, Manan Vohra, Krishnappa Gowtham, Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat, Shreyas Gopal and Dhawal Kulkarni


Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (captain & WK), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Murali Vijay, Kedar Jadhav, Sam Billings, Ravindra Jadeja, Dhruv Shorey, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Rituraj Gaikwad, Dwayne Bravo, Karn Sharma, Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Santner, Shardul Thakur, Mohit Sharma, K M Asif, Deepak Chahar, N Jagadeesan (wk), Scott Kuggeleijn

Rajasthan Royals: Ajinkya Rahane (C), Steve Smith, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Ashton Turner, Ish Sodhi, Oshane Thomas, Liam Livingstone, Sanju Samson, Shubham Ranjane, Stuart Binny, Shreyas Gopal, Sudhesan Midhun, Jaydev Unadkat, Prashant Chopra, Mahipal Lomror, Aryaman Birla, Riyan Parag, Dhawal Kulkarni, Krishnappa Gowtham, Varun Aaron, Shashank Singh, Manan Vohra, Rahul Tripathi
First Published: March 30, 2019, 8:17 PM IST

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