A depleted looking Rajasthan Royals will have a task on their hands to stop the formidable Chennai Super Kings in their Indian Premier League opener on a Sharjah track that’s expected to favour the batsmen.
Already without Ben Stokes who is set to be out for an unspecified time as he is with his ailing father, the Royals were handed a boost when captain Steve Smith was declared fit for their opening clash.
“Fantastic news that Steve is available,” RR head coach Andrew McDonald had said on Monday, much to the relief of Royals fans.
“It’s fantastic especially on the back of some setbacks back in the UK. It’s obviously great to have your skipper available for the first game.”
However, Jos Buttler, their impact player in the top-order will be missing the first game as he arrived separately with his family and needs to undergo mandatory 36-hour quarantine in Dubai.
The absence of the English pair will be difficult to cope with for the Royals as they struggle to find the right team balance without the all-round abilities of Stokes.
The responsibility of keeping Royals in the race for the playoffs would rest on their foreign recruits since Indian players in the set up do not inspire much confidence.
Jofra Archer’s presence will be important along with seasoned T20 stars like South African batsman David Miller and Australian pacer Andrew Tye.
The Royals’ main problem lies in their Indian core, which hasn’t exactly been consistent. The likes of Sanju Samson, Robin Uthappa, Jaydev Unadkat and Varun Aaron have failed to live up to the expectations over the years.
Last edition’s runner-up, CSK exacted revenge upon defending champions Mumbai Indians, beating them by five wickets in the tournament opener on Saturday and will be brimming with confidence ahead of their match against the Royals.
They have again shown how to work around with resources and Sam Curran coming good with an all-round show means that Dwayne Bravo would not be missed even if he is set to miss a few more games due to injury.
Ambati Rayudu and Faf du Plessis maintained the CSK “run-chase template” of attacking in the last ten overs by preserving wickets.
The addition of Piyush Chawla, a very successful IPL bowler, is also a big plus. However, it needs to be seen how Deepak Chahar is shaping up after sustaining a niggle in the final over of the MI innings. In case, Chahar can’t make it, they have a ready replacement in Shardul Thakur.
|Matches||CSK win||RR wins||Tied||CSK win %||RR win %|
- MS Dhoni needs 68 runs to complete 4500 IPL runs. Only five batsmen – Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan – have reached this landmark.
- Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu are closing in on 1000 runs for Chennai Super Kings and need 43 and 45 runs respectively to get there.
RR's squad for IPL 2020
|Mahipal Lomror||Ankit Rajpoot||Shreyas Gopal||Jos Buttler|
|Manan Vohra||Mayank Markande||Ben Stokes*||Robin Uthappa|
|Riyan Parag||Jofra Archer||Rahul Tewatia||Sanju Samson|
|David Miller||Varun Aaron||Shashank Singh||Anuj Rawat|
|Steve Smith||Jaydev Unadkat||Anirudha Joshi|
|Yashasvi Jaiswal||Kartik Tyagi|
CSK's squad for IPL 2020
|Ruturaj Gaikwad||Lungi Ngidi||Dwayne Bravo||MS Dhoni|
|Faf du Plessis||Deepak Chahar||Ravindra Jadeja||N Jagadeesan|
|Shane Watson||Karn Sharma||Mitchell Santner|
|Ambati Rayudu||Imran Tahir||Sam Curran|
|M Vijay||Shardul Thakur|
|Kedar Jadhav||Monu Kumar|
|R. Sai Kishore|
Match starts at 1930 IST and will be broadcast on the Star Sports network and Disney+Hotstar
(With PTI and iplt20.com inputs)