IPL 2019: Struggling Rajasthan Royals runs into red-hot Chennai

Stopping the great run of M.S. Dhoni's CSK could just be what the Royals want as they try to bounce back and stay in contention.

Chennai Super Kings is now top of the table with five wins from six games.   -  PTI Photo

Last weekend, Rajasthan Royals gave an exhibition of how not to play Twenty20 cricket. Grinding its way to a below par score — with seven wickets intact — against a Kolkata Knight Riders side packed with power-hitters, proved costly — an eight-wicket defeat with six overs to spare.

Ajinkya Rahane’s men cannot afford a repeat of that show as they get ready to take on table-topper Chennai Super Kings at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Thursday.

Stopping the great run of M.S. Dhoni’s CSK could just be what the Royals want as they try to bounce back and stay in contention. To do that, the top order has to fire, and score fast.

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Surprisingly, even Jos Buttler, the most explosive batsman in the line-up, was subdued in the previous clash against KKR. The team needs him to play his natural game, like he did against the same side last year.

Rajasthan would hope for the return of Sanju Samson, who missed the last two games because of a quadriceps strain. The talented Kerala batsman, who scored the first hundred of this IPL, was seen batting in the nets, raising hopes of a recovery.

The Royals depend a lot on the strokeplay of Samson and Buttler, who complement the more conservative style of Rahane and Steve Smith. The bowlers too had a Sunday night to forget against the KKR. Moreover, Royals would want players like Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Shreyas Gopal to raise their game.

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It would be interesting to see if another all-rounder who on his day is a proven match-winner, Ashton Turner, finally gets a game. If he does, he could not have hoped for a more challenging assignment for his IPL debut.

In Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav, their batting has the experience and depth the rivals could only envy. In the bowling department, four of CSK's bowlers are among the ten leading wicket-takers in this edition of IPL, which includes in-form Deepak Chahar and spinners Imran Tahir and Harbhajan Singh.

Having an experienced Dhoni is a big plus, who made an unbeaten 46-ball 75 in CSK’s eight-run win over Rajasthan in Chennai a few days ago.