Chennai are well on their way to another playoffs appearance in the IPL, currently cemented in second spot on the points table (one game clear of Kings XI Punjab). Traveling to Jaipur tomorrow night to take on a forgotten-Rajasthan Royals outfit, the Super Kings head into this contest as the red-hot favourites & have a chance to consolidate second spot for the remainder of the tournament if they walk away victorious.
Rajasthan have made an absolute mess of what could have potentially been a triumphant return to the franchise in 2018, the signs were good early but have since diminished after that three-match losing streak. Things just haven’t gone to plan for the Royals in IPL 11, the struggling form from a handful of their overseas signings in the opening stages of the tournament and the unavailability of star-seamer Jofra Archer who was sidelined for the first 2-3 weeks due to injury made for a tough start. In a terrible form slump, they came up against a downward-spiralling Kings XI side who looked the team to beat at one point in the competition, but nothing about that match resembled those statements as the Royals got the job done at home. English all-rounder Ben Stokes who happened to be one of those underperforming-overseas players managed to find form in back-to-back matches against Mumbai & Chennai after a disappointing start, but he’s since returned to that horrible slump averaging an abysmal 6.75 in his past four outings. The biggest question is, how the heck is Stokes still in the side when he’s taken just three wickets in 10 matches and averaged under 20 with the willow? Thankfully his English teammate has come to the party, albeit a bit later than expected but nevertheless timely on Rajasthan’s behalf. Yep, Jos Buttler’s last three innings in IPL 11 have consisted of 67, 51 & 82 which suggests he’s been batting in the wrong position this entire time, the move up the order has done wonders for his confidence. After consecutive three-wicket hauls to open his account in 2018, Jofra Archer appears to have been found out a bit by opposition teams and are handling him a lot better with the bat now. He’s taken just one wicket in each of his past three games. Their bowling unit appears to be one-paced in terms of what they’re capable of, both Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson really need to start showing their worth with the bat before it’s too late.
The Super Kings are taking care of business in 2018, albeit a little patchy in their past five games they haven’t really budged on the tournament standings which is always a good sign. You can just about lock both Hyderabad and Chennai in for the IPL 11 playoffs given the amount of high-quality cricket both teams have displayed this season, captain MS Dhoni has led the way with a truckload of wealthy-contributions as the IPL’s No.1 finisher in the game with the bat and of course his tactically-sound leadership on field. Dhoni’s numbers are astonishing this deep into the tournament, he’s still averaging 90 & striking at 165.89 with the bat which just about signifies why he’s labelled one of the best finishers in world cricket. Shane Watson has been more unpredictable than eye-catching for the Super Kings, but when he has decided to go all out he’s produced some gigantic scores including a ton against Rajasthan last month. Catering to Watson’s inconsistencies, Ambati Rayudu continues to put runs on the board in what has undoubtedly been his best IPL campaign since his debut season in 2010. The former Mumbai Indians batsman has compiled 423 runs at 42.30 in IPL 11 with seven more games left in the fixture (not including playoffs). It’s just a batting line-up you want to be a part of, and they should make light work of the Royals bowling attack if they’re switched on tomorrow night. They appear to be breaking down some barriers with the ball as well, Ravindra Jadeja is finally being utilized in what he does best, and that’s bowling a tight line with his slow left-arm spinners which saw him claim his best figures of the tournament against RCB (3/18). While it remains uncertain as to how they structure their attack going into the playoffs, it appears that Lungi Ngidi, Harbhajan Singh, Dwayne Bravo and possibly Deepak Chahar who’s not far away from returning could be their core-options. Both Bravo and Watson have been out of sorts with the ball but still remain solid wicket-taking options if need be.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Rajasthan Royals | 43rd match | Jaipur
- Jos Buttler
- Sanju Samson
- Jofra Archer
- Ish Sodhi
- Ajinkya Rahane
Wildcard pick – Ben Stokes
Top 5 fantasy picks | Chennai Super Kings | 43rd match | Jaipur
- Ambati Rayudu
- MS Dhoni
- Suresh Raina
- Harbhajan Singh
- Shane Watson
Wildcard pick – Dwayne Bravo
Rajasthan Royals (possible) – 1. Ajinkya Rahane © 2. Jos Buttler (wk) 3. Sanju Samson 4. Ben Stokes 5. Krishnappa Gowtham 6. Stuart Binny 7. Mahipal Lomror 8. Jofra Archer 9. Jaydev Unadkat 10. Ish Sodhi 11. Anureet Singh/Dhawal Kulkarni.
Chennai Super Kings (possible) – 1. Shane Watson 2. Ambati Rayudu 3. Suresh Raina 4. Dhruv Shorey 5. MS Dhoni (c & wk) 6. Dwayne Bravo 7. Ravindra Jadeja 8. David Willey 9. Harbhajan Singh 10. Lungi Ngidi 11. Shardul Thakur/Deepak Chahar/KM Asif.