After Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 action now shifts to Sharjah as Rajasthan Royals (RR) kick off their campaign, taking on Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on 22 September.
Jos Buttler, who is in quarantine with his family will not be available for RR’s first game while star all-rounder Ben Stokes is yet to join the squad. However, there is still enough in the tank for RR with Steve Smith set to lead the side, and Jofra Archer, David Miller and an array of Indian stars in the mix.
On the other hand, CSK, who won the tournament opener, have several proven match-winners and some young and exciting talent at their disposal.
Rajasthan remain without some key players including Ben Stokes whose availability remains under question and Jos Buttler but the situation isn’t much different with Chennai who will also be without Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh for the entire season.
The two squads are depleted but it’s the experience department where CSK seem to hold the edge over RR. The likes of Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu carried the team’s chase against Mumbai Indians in the opening encounter after openers Murali Vijay and Shane Watson fell early. For RR, the absence of Stokes and Buttler will be hard to fill keeping in the mind the overseas players that Rajasthan have.
One of the issues for the Royals would be the form of skipper Steve Smith who missed all of the three ODIs against England and had three poor scores of 18, 10 and 3 in the T20I series. He would be raring to change things around in the first match itself but is expected to struggle in terms of support from some of the other players in the team.
The Super Kings are expected to keep Sam Curran in the playing XI after his heroics against Mumbai. The conditions in Dubai, however, will be a little different to Abu Dhabi where MS Dhoni’s men had played their first game. While Abu Dhabi has offered more protection to the bowlers with its long boundaries and playing conditions, Dubai is different. The CSK vs RR battle could be the first run-fest of IPL 2020 which has struggled to get into 170s and 180s in the matches so far.
One of the areas where RR could usurp CSK would be their bowling department. The likes of Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat and Shreyas Gopal have a huge task on their shoulders if they are to see of the CSK threat and begin their IPL 13 journey on a winning note.
For Chennai, it’s all bout digging deep and hanging in there like the last time. Rayudu and Du Plessis did the job for them the last time around. This time, it could be the captain Dhoni himself.
RR’s record at the venue: Played 1, Lost 1
CSK’s record at the venue: Played 1, Won 1
CSK Playing XI: MS Dhoni (captain, wk), M Vijay, Ambati Rayudu, Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Lungi Ngidi, Deepak Chahar, Piyush Chawla, Sam Curran.
RR Playing XI: Steve Smith (captain), Robin Uthappa, Sanju Samson, Jofra Archer, Manan Vohra, David Miller, Shreyas Gopal, Riyan Parag, Varun Aaron, Shashank Singh, Mayank Markande
IPL 2020 points table
|Royal Challengers Bangalore||1||1||0||0||2||+0.500|
|Chennai Super Kings||1||1||0||0||2||+0.486|
|Kings XI Punjab||1||0||1||0||0||+0.000|
|Kolkata Knight Riders||0||0||0||0||0||–|