Date and time: September 22, Tuesday; 19:30 IST
Venue: Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah
Rajasthan Royals vs Chennai Super Kings, IPL 2020 preview
Chennai Super Kings’s five-wicket win over the defending champion Mumbai Indians served a reminder of their credentials as a champion team and as fast starters, but it was also an affirmation of the quality and the depth within the squad. MS Dhoni’s tactical nous came to the fore as Chennai out-thought Rohit Sharma and co. No Suresh Raina? No problem. No Dwayne Bravo? No problem. No Harbhajan Singh? No problem either.
Ambati Rayudu’s match-winning half-century couldn’t have been more timely. If he continues in this vein and scores at a strike-rate above 140, Raina’s absence won’t be felt as much as feared because Rayudu plays spin better than most other batsmen in the tournament and match-ups don’t bog him down when he’s in full flow.
Rayudu’s contribution was one of a handful of positives for CSK, with Dhoni’s ability to get the best out of his players on view again. His experience, match awareness and ability to seize moments make him Chennai’s biggest weapon. It’s certainly not the time to get carried away but Super Kings have set the tone to potentially go from strength to strength.
They take on a Rajasthan Royals side who will be without at least two of their key overseas players for their opening match. All-rounder Ben Stokes is yet to reach the UAE having left the England Test team’s bio-bubble after the first Test of their home series against Pakistan in early-August due to family reasons. Wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler is under quarantine having travelled to the UAE with his family, making him unavailable for his team’s opening fixture.
Coach Andrew McDonald confirmed that captain Steve Smith is available for the match on match eve, which is a shot in the arm for the inaugural IPL champion.
The Jaipur-based franchise were among the more active at last year’s auction, where they bought a combination of young and experienced Indian players. They bought back Jaydev Unadkat for Rs 3 crore, to go with the acquisitions of India Under-19 stars Yashasvi Jaiswal (Rs 2.4 crore) and Kartik Tyagi (Rs 1.3 crore), former Kolkata Knight Riders batsman Robin Uthappa among others. While they made no high-profile signings (Indian or overseas), they added all-rounder Tom Curran, seamer Andrew Tye, West Indies fast bowler Oshane Thomas, former Kings XI Punjab batsman David Miller to their squad.
While Royals will rely on their overseas players perhaps more than other franchises, their progress in the tournament will depend on the performances of their Indian players such as Sanju Samson, Unadkat, Shreyas Gopal and others.
Not having Buttler and Stokes for their opening match is far from ideal, but equally, it’s an opportunity for others to step up. Expectations of Rajasthan, much like Rising Pune Supergiant in IPL 2017, are low. It may work in their favour if they can string together a few good results.
RR vs CSK head to head in IPL
Chennai Super Kings lead Rajasthan Royals by 14-8 in the head to head record.
In IPL 2014, when the teams met in Dubai, CSK won a low-scoring match by seven runs with a successful defence of their total of 140 for six.
RR vs CSK Sharjah pitch report and conditions
The refurbished Sharjah Cricket Stadium will host its first match of the season and the pitch is expected to be good for batting. The ground dimensions are shorter compared to Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
When a part of IPL 2014 was held in the UAE, Sharjah hosted six matches. Teams batting second won four of those, with Kings XI Punjab registering the highest successful run-chase (192) against Rajasthan Royals. It’s an indication the pitch stays true for the course of a T20 match.
With the possibility of dew and teams yet to have a first-hand experience of the pitch, they are likely to opt to field first should the toss go in their favour.
RR vs CSK Sharjah weather report
A maximum temperature of 40-degree Celsius is forecast on Tuesday, with a minimum of 29-degree Celsius.
The humidity, at 65 per cent, won’t make the conditions any easier for the players.
IPL 2020: RR vs CSK playing 11
Update: Captain Steve Smith is available for Rajasthan Royals’ opening fixture against Chennai Super Kings, coach Andrew McDonald confirmed. Cricfooty has updated the probable line-up initially published in the article.
According to ESPNcricinfo, McDonald said via a news release: “Fantastic news that Steve is available. It’s fantastic especially on the back of some setbacks back in the UK. It is obviously great to have your skipper available for the first game, as I have said before we are in really good hands.”
Probable Rajasthan Royals playing 11: 1 Steve Smith (c), 2 Yashasvi Jaiswal, 3 Robin Uthappa/Manan Vohra, 4 Sanju Samson (wk), 5 David Miller, 6 Riyan Parag, 7 Shreyas Gopal, 8 Jofra Archer, 9 Varun Aaron/Kartik Tyagi, 10 Andrew Tye, 11 Jaydev Unadkat
CSK team news: Maharashtra batsman Ruturaj Gaikwad has cleared the two mandatory COVID-19 tests and begun training with the squad.
Probable Chennai Super Kings playing 11: 1 MS Dhoni (c & wk), 2 Shane Watson, 3 Murali Vijay, 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 Faf du Plessis, 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Sam Curran, 9 Piyush Chawla, 10 Deepak Chahar, 11 Lungi Ngidi
Rajasthan Royals are significantly disadvantaged with their key overseas players unavailable for their opening fixture, which shifts the focus to what their Indian players are capable of. Teams have been rusty in all departments to start off with but Chennai, with a win under their belt and with match practice behind them, will feel buoyant. They start as firm favourites, but Rajasthan have the talent in their squad to unsettle the three-time champion.