Royals hopes to stay in the pink against CSK

Rajasthan Royals, requiring to win every game from now on, will look to carry forward the form it showed against Kings XI Punjab.

Shane Watson during a training session at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on Thursday. The Aussie has played for RR earlier and the team think-tank will rely on his inputs.   -  R.V. Moorthy

Chennai Super Kings has the men and means to counter everything Rajasthan Royals hurls at it at the Sawai Mansingh stadium in IPL 2018's away match.

Qualifying for the playoffs is not a matter of anxiety for the visiting team, leaving captain M.S. Dhoni and coach Stephen Fleming with the task of tying up loose ends and testing players in match situations. The home team, requiring to win every game from now on, will be in a different mindset.

Shane Watson had cracked a century in CSK’s 64-run win at its home base in Pune, where seven bowlers had teamed up to curtail RR's batting ambitions. Wicket and weather conditions are different in Jaipur, with searing heat allowing slow bowlers to come into play. The SMS stadium outfield is a paler shade of green. Dust storms are common in these parts, a mild version blew across the city four days ago. For Dhoni, learning from losses is a priority more than worrying about RR's intentions.



CSK’s two recent defeats happened when defending modest totals — against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens and against Mumbai Indians in Pune. The experienced Watson has played for RR earlier and the team think-tank can rely on his inputs. The bowling combination is a work in progress as injuries and changes due to external factors have forced the team management to try out new faces in varied conditions.

Rajasthan’s Deepak Chahar, the only local player in the squad and recovering from a hamstring strain, trained with the squad and his fitness is being monitored. CSK coach Stephen Fleming dwelt on the event’s competitive element. “There are no easy matches in the IPL. You take eye off the ball now and there is a possibility the games in the end will be difficult. We are looking to get better each time we step on the field and the policy will continue.”

For the home team, there is no option but to continue with the aggressive approach seen against Kings XI Punjab. New Zealand spinner Ish Sodhi pointed out: “The game against Punjab was the only time we put together a complete show, the batting and bowling performing and it is the way forward.” RR skipper Ajinkya Rahane opened the batting and off-spinner Krishnappa Gowtham opened the bowling. Catches were taken and the players in blue resembled a fighting unit.

There will be no room for slip-ups. “We are responsible for the situation we are in. For a while now, when batsmen got runs, bowlers did not deliver and the other way round. Chennai is a tough opponent, we need to keep playing aggressive, our mentor Shane Warne tries to instill the qualities in us bowlers and the rest of the squad,” Sodhi said.

The Royals will take the field sporting pink jerseys as part of the team's commitment to ‘Cancer Out’ campaign on Friday night.