Dubai: Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals appear as formidable as each other as they search for a second straight win in the 2021 Indian Premier League.
The sides lock horns at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday and with the parallels being many, you could perhaps call this fixture one of the most balanced so far in this year’s competition.
MS Dhoni’s CSK started off with a big seven-wicket defeat by Delhi Capitals, but bounced back strongly to beat Punjab Kings by six wickets. On the other hand, the Sanju Samson-led Royals were at the receiving end of an epic four-run loss at the hands of Punjab Kings in their opening match, a game that witnessed a massive 438 runs being scored. But they overcame that heartbreak to narrowly scrape past Delhi by three wickets with two balls to spare as they chased a below-par 147.
The parallels continue with a bowler making the difference for each side: Deepak Chahar for CSK and Jaydev Unadkat for Rajasthan. Chahar ran from the top down to the middle order against Punjab and his figures of 4/13 stopped them at a cheap 106/8, which turned out to be a cakewalk for CSK’s batsmen. Unhurriedly, CSK got across the line with Faf du Plessis (36*) and Moeen Ali (46) doing the bulk of the scoring.
Jaydev Unadkat, meanwhile, accounted for the top three in the Capitals batting line-up. Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan, the architects of the win against CSK, were out for two and nine respectively, and Ajinkya Rahane too, who departed cheaply.
Nothing apart from those two performances have stood out for either side, with Chetan Sakariya’s 3/31 against Punjab pretty tidy considering the rampant batting show in that match. Sakariya failed to do any damage against Capitals, but at least he wasn’t astronomically uneconomical. Mustafizur Rahman on the other hand seemed to find his mojo against Capitals and that’s a good sign ahead of the CSK game.
As far as CSK’s bowling is concerned, Dhoni will be looking for another big bowling performance from Chahar, while quick Shardul Thakur might be left out of this one as South African Lungi Ngidi returns from quarantine and could be drafted in to give Chennai’s pace attack more teeth.
Royals’ top order flopped big time against Capitals in their last match but David Miller and Chris Morris stepped in at the right time to deliver victory. Samson has been one of the highest run scorers and though he scored just four last time, the fact he is this IPL’s only centurion is bound to give Dhoni plenty to think about.
As far as CSK’s batting is concerned, Du Plessis’ reawakening against Punjab and Ali’s consistency have been positives. Dhoni was out for a duck in the opener and didn’t bat against Punjab, so it’s hard to say if he’s managed to shake off any of the rust gained since his retirement last year.
Suresh Raina scored a fifty in the opening match, but seemed to struggle against Punjab and will be eager to get back among the runs after missing last year’s tournament in the UAE.
As far as the captaincy goes and you can say it again: Dhoni has looked fresh, while Samson is an outright fresher with this being only his third outing as skipper.
The cool heads have plenty to prove this season and time will reveal which between experience and youth triumphs over the other at least in this game.
Catch the Match
Chennai v Rajasthan
6pm (UAE time)