The gap is starting to widen between the Rajasthan Royals and the rest of the competition, only the winless-RCB find themselves below the men in pink which casts some serious doubt over their ability to win. The timing couldn’t have been any worse for the Royals either, they find themselves going head-to-head with the league leaders Chennai who have won four of their past five games compared to Rajasthan’s one.
The Royals are in some serious trouble at the moment, their gameplay looks stagnant and they can barely scrape together a handful of names performing at any sort of level of consistency. A win against RCB in Jaipur recently looked to get them back on track, that was until the Knight Riders sapped any sort of confidence that was building from the hobbling-Royals resulting in an 8 wicket defeat. Rajasthan’s overseas signings have started to step up, both Jos Buttler and Steve Smith have put their Ashes-rivalry aside for the time being and delivered with some crucial knocks at the top of the order. Averaging 53 in the 2019 IPL, Smith’s gritty 73 not out against Kolkata was his best yet as he continues to build on his form. Missing Rajasthan’s last two games, the vibrant Sanju Samson is expected to make his return tomorrow evening against the Super Kings in Jaipur. Samson is a huge inclusion for the Royals, the right-hander has already scored a ton in this seasons IPL against Hyderabad earlier. Is it a case of misuse, or is English all-rounder Ben Stokes just badly out of touch?
Labelled as one of England’s most entertaining players, Stokes seems to be on a downward-slide in the IPL. He’s just batting to low, and it’s got to be blatantly obvious to many watching the Royals. The problem is that the team already has so much top order power that Stokes finds himself sliding down the order constantly. Stokes has also struggled with the ball, although to be fair so has the rest of Rajasthan’s seamers. Boom-recruit Jofra Archer has probably had one good game for the tournament, not exactly what they were expecting in return for a healthy payout. Any avid cricket follower could tell you that they are solely-relying on Shreyas Gopal’s leg-spin to make the key breakthroughs, and he’s done a fantastic job so far with 8 wickets. The only problem is they are lacking two more bowlers outputs, but at the moment they look like a bowling unit that is easy to milk runs off with very-little risk involved.
Chennai Super Kings
It’s looking like another successful playoffs campaign is on the horizon for the mighty-Chennai Super Kings, although it is a bit early to start talking about the backend of the tournament. MS Dhoni has marshalled his troops brilliantly so far in IPL 12, they are proving to be a real juggernaut of the competition as they click over to five wins. Missing out on the first four games of the tournament, South Africa’s Faf du Plessis has top-scored for the Super Kings in his past two outings since his inclusion in the playing XI. With scores of 54 and 43* against Punjab and Kolkata, Faf has given Chennai an extra string to their bow as they look to continue their dominance in 2019. A number of their batsmen do however still look a bit shaky, Suresh Raina and Ambati Rayudu in particular. They look extremely ominous early, only to be dismissed a matter of deliveries later. Rayudu and Watson are both averaging below 20 with the willow this season, Raina isn’t much better at 22.
Any other team in the IPL would’ve well & truly swung the axe by now, but Chennai has a lot of faith in their proven-performers. Sam Billings and Murali Vijay should realistically be in the mix to play their first IPL match in 2019, but that just doesn’t seem to be the case. Another outstanding display of bowling from Chennai’s attack left Kolkata in a tricky situation which proved too much in the end as Deepak Chahar (3/20), Harbhajan Singh (2/15) and Imran Tahir (2/21) helped themselves to a buffet of wickets. The Super Kings have to be one of the only teams in the competition that can pull-off playing three spinners in a side, it’s because they all complement each other brilliantly. CSK is a class above any other side in the competition at the moment, so don’t be surprised if they accumulate a lengthy winning-streak.
Top 4 fantasy picks – Rajasthan Royals
- Shreyas Gopal
- Sanju Samson
- Steve Smith
- Jofra Archer
Wildcard pick – Ben Stokes
Top 4 fantasy picks – Chennai Super Kings
- Harbhajan Singh
- Faf du Plessis
- MS Dhoni
- Ravindra Jadeja
Wildcard pick – Kedar Jadhav
Rajasthan Royals (possible) – 1. Ajinkya Rahane © 2. Jos Buttler (wk) 3. Sanju Samson 4. Steve Smith 5. Ben Stokes 6. Rahul Tripathi 7. Krishnappa Gowtham 8. Jofra Archer 9. Shreyas Gopal 10. Sudhesan Midhun/Jaydev Unadkat 11. Dhawal Kulkarni.
Chennai Super Kings (possible) – 1. Shane Watson 2. Faf du Plessis 3. Suresh Raina 4. Ambati Rayudu 5. MS Dhoni (c & wk) 6. Kedar Jadhav 7. Ravindra Jadeja 8. Harbhajan Singh 9. Deepak Chahar 10. Shardul Thakur/Mohit Sharma 11. Imran Tahir.
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.