The Chennai Super Kings will take on the Rajasthan Royals in Match No. 17 of the 11th edition of IPL at their new base- the MCA Stadium in Pune. CSK last played a game 4 days ago and would be desperate to come back to winning ways after experiencing this season’s first loss against the Kings XI Punjab. The Rajasthan Royals and CSK have 4 points each on the table, however, RR have played a match more than CSK.
Although CSK and RR both have had some extraordinary moments in the matches they have played, it would be safe to say that they still are quite a distance away from their best cricket. While CSK have had late flourishes from Dwayne Bravo, Sam Billings and MS Dhoni; young Sanju Samson has been a huge plus for the RR.
The four-day break has definitely helped CSK veteran Suresh Raina to recover from his injury. Raina, who was spotted practicing yesterday, is expected to replace Murali Vijay, if he is declared fit. In such a situation, Ambati Rayudu would get back to open the innings along with Shane Watson, as Raina is an automatic choice for the No. 3 place.
The Rajasthan Royals have now played the same XI for their first four matches and a change or two here and there looks inevitable. D’ Arcy Short has looked scratchy even when he has managed to survive the initial difficult phase and somebody like a Samson or Jos Buttler can open the innings with captain Ajinkya Rahane. Heinrich Klaasen can be the overseas replacement for Royals. With an extended practice session for Jofra Archer, he can make a debut, if declared fit before the match.
Suresh Raina’s inclusion will be a huge boost to CSK moving forward and one can expect a typical Raina innings at Pune. Along with him, Ambati Rayudu, who has been getting starts, has looked impressive but has failed to take his innings deeper into the middle and slog overs. Shane Watson too has provided the brisk starts but would want to make it big tonight at Pune.
For the Rajasthan Royals, a team studded with overseas batsmen like Short and Butler, Indian duo of Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson hold the key as they have been amongst the runs and would look to make the most out of it while others settle in.
As far as the bowling is concerned, a lot will depend on the Pune wicket. How the track will play at 5 days’ notice in Pune will determine the team balance and strategy. Chennai have a spin- heavy attack, keeping in mind the Chepauk stadium, and Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir and Ravindra Jadeja (who has hardly bowled in the tournament) can have a critical role in the game, though the home matches will be played at Pune.
On a similar note, for all the expenses on left arm pacer Jaydev Undatkat, it is the duo of Krishnappa Gowtham and Shreyas Gopal which has been outstanding for the RR. The spinners have been handled extremely well by Ajinkya Rahane.
However, if the wicket helps the spinners, get ready for a strategic brilliance from skipper MS Dhoni, who is very much in control of the proceedings, once the spinners start performing well.
When the finalists of the inaugural edition lock horns, a fascinating contest is a minimum take away. Broadcast starts at 20:00 Hours (IST).