Attempting to replicate the undefeated-Sunrisers Hyderabad, both Chennai and Rajasthan weren’t up to the task after losing their previous matches, a golden opportunity diminished to lock horns in a three-way tussle for top spot on the IPL standings. That makes this next match all the more important, the winner will stay in contention with the top three.
A bad back couldn’t keep Super Kings skipper MS Dhoni down last Sunday night with his team in desperate need of a hero, the outcome saw Punjab survive an MS onslaught as they crept home by four runs, a shattering-loss for Chennai as their dream run in their IPL comeback was short-lived. A career-best 79 not out from the Indian veteran featured six fours and five sixes in a momentous-effort to get his team across the line, the end result wasn’t great but Chennai can hold their heads high after a respectable-loss. In actual fact, Chennai have done surprisingly-well despite losing some key players through injury, they’ve all shared the workload with the bat this season which is a promising sign with Kedar Jadhav ruled out for the entire 2018 IPL and the likes of Faf du Plessis and Suresh Raina also recovering from small-niggles. Sam Billings and Dwayne Bravo have both played instrumental knocks for the Super Kings in a time of desperate need, while both openers and Ambati Rayudu at No. 3 have also stepped up when called upon. They’ve operated in a similar-manor to the Knight Riders who have also had a great deal of contributors early in the tournament, teams like that are a constant threat. Australian all-rounder Shane Watson is proving to be a huge asset to Chennai in 2018, he has been opening the innings with the bat and taking wickets when handed the ball, players like himself and Dwayne Bravo are gems in this format of the game. Bravo has been a little-out of sorts with the ball so far, he’s taken just one wicket in three matches with an economy of 10.18. 39-year-old South African spinner Imran Tahir continues to prolong his career with brilliant bowling spells in these types of tournaments, he’s averaging a wicket a game in IPL 11 so far. Dhoni might also want to think about using off-spinner Ravindra Jadeja a bit more frequently, he’s bowled just the three overs and seems to be playing as an all-rounder which is a waste of his talent at the moment.
Another loss for the Rajasthan Royals would be detrimental to their tournament, all three teams underneath Rajasthan would be in reaching distance despite all of them starting IPL 11 poorly. Renowned for their slow-wickets in India, Aussie T20 phenomenon D’Arcy Short has struggled-immensely to make any real impact compared to his Big Bash League form back at home for the Hobart Hurricanes. It was almost a formality that Short was going to be given the flick after three-dismal outings for the Royals, but they threw him a lifeline against Kolkata where he scored a scratchy but respectable 44 off 43 balls. The man alongside him at the top of the order Ajinkya Rahane has once again brought that consistency to the table we’re so used to seeing, the Royals captain is yet to score a fifty but is still somehow managing to average 32.50 with a healthy strike rate of 141.30. Rajasthan have the luxury of elevating Rahul Tripathi as an opening batsman if they choose to replace Short with another overseas batsman or all-rounder, although English bad boy Ben Stokes hasn’t exactly cemented his spot in the team either. With a top score of 27 from four matches predominantly playing as a batsman, Stokes is no certainty to hold his spot in the side averaging 15.50. Let’s turn our attention to Sanju Samson, he probably had his only poor outing of the tournament just recently but has otherwise been a boom-recruit for the Royals. Sanju has already scored 185 runs from four innings at an average of 61.66, he’s been simply brilliant for his new team and could possibly-surpass his career-best IPL season with the Daredevils last year where he scored 386 runs. A huge concern for Rajasthan though is their bowling unit, it looks lifeless with a number of India’s promising quicks failing to deliver in 2018, and just generally lacking a genuine strike bowler with Jofra Archer still trying to shake off an injury. If Rajasthan continue to persist with this bowling attack, they’ll sink to the bottom of the points table in no time.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Chennai Super Kings | 17th match | Pune
- Imran Tahir
- Ambati Rayudu
- Shane Watson
- Dwayne Bravo
- Murali Vijay
Wildcard pick – Ravindra Jadeja
Top 5 fantasy picks | Rajasthan Royals | 17th match | Pune
- Sanju Samson
- Ajinkya Rahane
- Rahul Tripathi
- Shreyas Gopal
- Jos Buttler
Wildcard pick – D’Arcy Short
Chennai Super Kings
MS Dhoni was positive that his back injury would not rule him out for Chennai’s next game against the Royals, but he’s no certainty either. South Africa’s Faf du Plessis was expected to be available for selection on April 15th when they played Kings XI Punjab, he’s been recovering from a side-strain and could potentially make his return to the IPL against Rajasthan if he’s confirmed as fit to play. The Super Kings might also want to think about including spinner Karn Sharma who picked up 13 wickets in last year’s IPL for the Mumbai Indians. 23-year-old medium pacer Monu Kumar could be a possibility to replace the wayward-Deepak Chahar who has been expensive in his past two games.
It’s hard to predict what Rajasthan are going to do with their top order, whether they’ve lost faith in D’Arcy Short at the top of the order or see Ben Stokes as a liability with both bat & ball, it’s clear that Heinrich Klaasen is almost screaming out for team selection after a number of the Royals overseas players have fallen short of expectations. Jofra Archer’s situation is becoming a huge frustration for the Royals, they’re crying out for a strike bowler in a lacklustre-attack at the moment and he’s nowhere to be seen four games into Rajasthan’s campaign. From all reports, he’s training with the group which means he’s inching towards an IPL debut. As for the rest of the bowling unit, they are in desperate need of some fresh faces which could see a handful of changes being made tomorrow night.
Chennai Super Kings (possible) – 1. Shane Watson 2. Murali Vijay 3. Ambati Rayudu 4. Sam Billings/Faf du Plessis 5. MS Dhoni (c & wk) 6. Ravindra Jadeja 7. Dwayne Bravo 8. Harbhajan Singh/Karn Sharma 9. Deepak Chahar/Monu Kumar 10. Shardul Thakur 11. Imran Tahir.
Rajasthan Royals (possible) – 1. Ajinkya Rahane © 2. D’Arcy Short 3. Sanju Samson 4. Rahul Tripathi 5. Ben Stokes/Heinrich Klaasen 6. Jos Buttler (wk) 7. Krishnappa Gowtham 8. Stuart Binny 9. Shreyas Gopal 10. Jaydev Unadkat/Anureet Singh 11. Ben Laughlin/Jofra Archer.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.