IPL 2020, RR vs CSK preview: Smith all set to start Royals' campaign

With Steve Smith having cleared the concussion test, Rajasthan Royals look to make early gain in its first IPL 2020 match against heavyweight Chennai Super Kings.

Steve Smith looks all set to lead Rajasthan Royals against Chennai Super Kings.   -  Photo credit: Rajasthan Royals

The first-ever IPL champion -- Rajasthan Royals (RR) -- will begin its new campaign against three-time winner Chennai Super Kings (CSK) at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.

CSK has already played a game in the 2020 edition. It defeated the Mumbai Indians (MI) by five wickets in the season opener at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

THE BUILD-UP

Chennai, a record eight-time IPL finalist, chased down 163 against Mumbai after being reduced to 6/2 in the second over. The team might back itself to bat second in the Rajasthan game as well.

However, Sharjah -- where spinners have been very successful -- is a tricky wicket for batsmen. The average first innings total at the venue is 149. Unless a side restricts its opposition to a below-average score, chasing a target is going to be difficult.   

Having finished seventh out of eight teams last season, the Royals will be raring to go this year. They haven't reached an IPL final since winning the title in 2008 but have made the playoffs in 2013, 2015 and 2018.

Former Australian all-rounder Andrew McDonald replaced Paddy Upton as the franchise's head coach for 2020. Former RR players, Ish Sodhi and Dishant Yagnik were named spin consultant and fielding coach respectively in an attempt to revive the team's fortunes.

THE KEY MEN

CSK head coach Stephen Fleming has already confirmed that West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Bravo will miss Tuesday's outing and the Super Kings could retain their playing XI.

However, both openers -- Shane Watson and Murali Vijay -- had failed against MI. With 23-year-old batsman Ruturaj Gaikwad, who was touted to take Suresh Raina's place in the XI, back in training after recovering from COVID-19, Vijay could lose his spot.

Half-centurions Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu and batting all-rounder Kedar Jadhav, who can be handy with his off-spin, will keep their places alongside skipper Dhoni. 

IPL 2020: Rayudu, Du Plessis hit fifties; Chennai beats Mumbai in opener  

England's Sam Curran, who was brilliant with both bat and the ball during his CSK debut, is expected to share the new ball with Deepak Chahar once again.

South African pacer Lungi Ngidi, and Indian spinners Piyush Chawla and Ravindra Jadeja will complete the Chennai line-up. Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Santner and Karn Sharma will be backup options in case there's an injury at the last moment.

Meanwhile, RR will be missing the services of Englishmen Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes for its opening game. The onus will now be on Steve Smith to make the right choices.

Rajasthan had either released or traded the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Jaydev Unadkat, Krishnappa Gowtham and Stuart Binny ahead of the auction in December 2019. But it bought back Unadkat at a lower price.

Oshane Thomas and Jofra Archer during a training session.   -  Photo credit: Rajasthan Royals

 

Robin Uthappa, David Miller, Tom Curran, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Kartik Tyagi were some of the valuable newcomers added to the roster. Miller and Curran, who's set to feature against his brother Sam, will most probably take up Buttler and Stokes' spots in the playing XI.

Jaiswal, the youngest player ever to score a List-A double century, and Tyagi were both involved in the Indian U-19 World Cup team's run to the final in 2020. These exciting youngsters may be part of the Chennai encounter too.

IPL 2020: KXIP's Shami registers his best bowling figures  

Wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson might open the innings for RR with either Jaiswal or Uthappa. Captain Smith and Miller are expected to orchestrate the middle-order alongside Manan Vohra and Riyan Parag.

Pacer Jofra Archer will lead the bowling attack, with Unadkat and Varun Aaron giving him ample support, while Shreyas Gopal, Mayank Markande and Rahul Tewatia being the spin options.

HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORD

Rajasthan and Chennai have faced each other 21 times in the IPL so far, and the latter holds a 14-7 win-loss record. In the last five games between the two sides, CSK has four victories, while RR won only one.

SQUADS:

Rajasthan Royals: Steve Smith (Captain), Jos Buttler (Wicketkeeper), Sanju Samson (Wicketkeeper), Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes, Robin Uthappa, David Miller, Ankit Rajpoot, Mahipal Lomror, Manan Vohra, Riyan Parag, Mayank Markande, Shreyas Gopal, Varun Aaron, Jaydev Unadkat, Kartik Tyagi, Akash Singh, Oshane Thomas, Andrew Tye, Rahul Tewatia, Shashank Singh, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Anirudha Joshi, Tom Curran, Anuj Rawat.

Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (Captain & Wicketkeeper), Imran Tahir, Deepak Chahar, Faf du Plessis, Shardul Thakur, Mitchell Santner, Dwayne Bravo, Josh Hazlewood, Kedar Jadhav, Karn Sharma, Piyush Chawla, Ambati Rayudu, Lungi Ngidi, Sam Curran, Monu Kumar, Shane Watson, Sai Kishore, Narayan Jagadeesan (Wicketkeeper), Ruturaj Gaikwad, KM Asif, Ravindra Jadeja, Murali Vijay.

MATCH DETAILS

Game No. 4: Rajasthan Royals vs Chennai Super Kings.

Venue: Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

Date: September 22, Tuesday.

Time: 7:30 PM IST.

  Dugout videos