Chennai Super Kings (CSK) yet again have qualified for the playoffs and have done it with some flair and style. Meanwhile, things are quickly falling apart for Rajasthan Royals (RR) in the tournament.
After a rampaging start by Evin Lewis and Yashasvi Jaiswal, RR imploded and lost the remaining seven wickets for 51 runs. Later their bowlers too put on a disappointing display against RCB and lost the match by seven wickets. RR director of cricket Kumar Sangakkara came down heavily on Chris Morris and said he has not performed as he would have liked it. So far, the pacer has not taken any wickets in the UAE leg of the IPL. He has also been expensive, which has put pressure on Kartik Tyagi and Mustafizur Rahman.
RR’s replacement player Liam Livingstone has also not looked good, and that has led to skipper Sanju Samson shouldering the additional responsibility of batting through the innings. The RR management would be hoping to have some better performances from their foreign players in order to stay in contention for the playoffs.
On the other hand, CSK have not put a foot wrong and have become the first team to secure a place in the playoffs. As usual skipper, MS Dhoni has been spot on with his bowling changes and marshalled his bowling resources well. The batting too has clicked with openers Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis doing the bulk of the run-scoring. With already 18 points onboard, CSK look prim to secure a top-two finish.
The match is going to be played in Abu Dhabi, the trickiest of the three pitches. So far, the pitches have been mixed bag and teams have found it easier to defend scores.
Predicted Playing XI
Evin Lewis, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson, Mahipal Lomror, Riyan Parag, Liam Livingstone, Rahul Tewatia, Oshane Thomas, Mustafizur Rahman, Chetan Sakariya, Kartik Tyagi.
Chennai Super Kings
Faf du Plessis, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Josh Hazlewood
The additional responsibility of captaincy has brought the best of Sanju Samson. So far, he has scored 452 runs in 11 matches and has been the major contributor to the team. When the RR skipper scores runs the other batters rally behind him. With three more games to go, he would like to score as many runs as possible.
CSK all-rounder Moeen Ali looked in prime form during the India leg of the IPL but has so far been ordinary in the UAE leg. With no pressure of qualifying, Moeen can look to score runs more freely.