The Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals are in a bit of crisis at this point in the tournament. Both sides have missing six of their nine games. Both missing their respective final matches, that have been near contests and desperately need of their wicketkeeper-batsmen to click. But there were positives in their respective losses too – a couple of of their batsmen showed good hitting form, albeit a bit too late into the tournament. Or perhaps not.
The chopping and changing of the line-up have not been fruitful, but the Royals’ batting looked in much better shape in the match against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, with a couple of drastic but much-needed changes in place. While Robin Uthappa’s promotion to the top of the order worked mannered, captain Steven Smith at his usual No. 4 position hit form with a half-century and gave them the required impetus from the middle order. Sanju Samson, then again, has continued to struggle with the bat after a dream start to the tournament. Finally, a fantastic AB de Villiers assault and the gamble of giving Jaydev Unadkat the penultimate over instead of Jofra Archer 19th over cost them two points.
For the Super Kings, then again, it was once fielding slip-ups that proved costly in the game against the Delhi Capitals. Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis, even though a bit slow to receive off the blocks with the bat, laid out the foundation. Their middle order, which had lacked firepower up to that point, stepped up and plundered 57 runs off the final four overs against arguably the most productive death bowling attack in the tournament. Jadeja, coming in after MS Dhoni’s yet another low score, struck a 13-ball 33 not out as Ambati Rayudu helped from the other end with an unbeaten 25-ball 45.
While both sides’ campaigns are nearing a point of no return, a win for either of these teams will give their playoffs pursuit a big push.
In the news
Dwayne Bravo’s groin injury kept him off the field throughout the Capitals’ chase, which eventually prevented him from bowling the a very powerful last over of the match. Coach Stephen Fleming said Bravo would overlook “a couple of days or a few weeks”. The Super Kings could look to reintroduce Josh Hazlewood or go for an additional spinner in Imran Tahir.
A Samson special ensured a 16-run win for the Royals in their opening match of the season in Sharjah. Samson slammed a 32-ball 74 and took Royals to 216. In response, the Super Kings fell short by 16 runs even as du Plessis scored a 37-ball 72.
Chennai Super Kings: 1 Faf du Plessis, 2 Sam Curran, 3 Shane Watson, 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 MS Dhoni (capt, wk), 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Deepak Chahar, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 Shardul Thakur, 10 Karn Sharma, 11 Josh Hazlewood/ Imran Tahir
Rajasthan Royals: 1 Jos Buttler (wk), 2 Robin Uthappa, 3 Sanju Samson, 4 Steven Smith (capt), 5 Ben Stokes 6 Riyan Parag, 7 Rahul Tewatia, 8 Jofra Archer, 9 Shreyas Gopal/Mayank Markande, 10 Jaydev Unadkat, 11 Kartik Tyagi
The Super Kings could use Sam Curran as a floater. Curran opened the innings in the final two games with contrasting returns: against the Sunrisers, he made a 21-ball 31 but was once dismissed for a duck against the Capitals. He could be used in the middle overs to counter the Royals’ spinners as he averages over 50 and strikes at 241 against spin this season.
Are the Royals lacking a trick by pushing Jos Buttler down the order? Buttler has been at his best while opening the innings and is the only opener, aside from Chris Gayle, to average over 40 and strike at 150-plus in the IPL. Meantime, Stokes has not been especially successful in his new role at the top. Will the Royals swap their positions?
Will the Royals bring in Mayank Markande against the Super Kings? The Super Kings haven’t precisely been at their best against spin this year, with a scoring rate of only 7.7. This might immediate the Royals to herald Markande and bowl him at the side of Shreyas Gopal and Rahul Tewatia, also considering the truth that their legspinners picked up four wickets throughout the reverse fixture earlier in the tournament.
Stats that matter
The Super Kings and the Royals were a number of the top spin units in 2019 but their spinners have been misfiring this season. While the Super Kings spinners have been the most costly this season, with an economy of 9.1, the Royals’ have taken the least wickets (12).
Jofra Archer has been the key for the Royals this season, both in the powerplay and at the death. Among fast bowlers who have bowled no less than 20 overs this season, Archer has the most productive economy (7).
Dhoni is set to be the first to 200 matches in the IPL.
The Royals have missing the most wickets in the powerplay in comparison to other teams this season. They have missing 27 wickets in nine matches and on average, have missing a wicket nearly each 16th ball.
Rayudu is five short of 5000 T20 runs.