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|Jofra Chioke Archer||13||12||1||0||108.33|
|Faf du Plessis||7||10||0||0||70.00|
|Jofra Chioke Archer||4.0||1||19||1||4.75|
Keeping Royal Challengers Bangalore aside, we have two ends of the points table. At one end there are Chennai Super Kings who are rising high with the momentum and are currently at the first position and on another end, we have Rajasthan Royals who have managed to win just one game - that too against Royal Challengers Bangalore. They will be up against each other in what is an important encounter for the Royals, not so much for the Super Kings considering their top of the table position. Apparently, from the points table, this appears to be a mismatch. However, these two teams have a long-standing rivalry which resumed last year when these two teams came back into the competition. We expect a cracker of a contest this time around as well.
Things haven't really been breezy for the Royals up until now in the tournament. They've lost matches - both away and home and their only win have come against the Royal Challengers Bangalore which as per the perception is not a big deal anymore.
While Rajasthan Royals have done well in intervals, they haven't really been able to do well on the whole in a match. We have already seen a few brilliant innings from Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler, Shreyas Gopal, Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes, and Steven Smith in the short span, but unfortunately, none of those have really been converted to wins.
A lot of that has been due to their conservative gameplay and the top and while it is good in longer versions of the game, it has come back to haunt them in the T20s. Having said that, Chennai Super Kings is susceptible to the same kind of gameplay and they might break under pressure if Royals happen to be patient enough.
Sanju Samson, who has now missed two back to back games, is expected to return for this match which is certainly a big boost for the Royals. Overall, they look extremely good on paper and when compared man-to-man, and consistency and holding your nerve will be the key for them when they take on table-toppers on Thursday.
Ajinkya Rahane, Jos Buttler, Steven Smith, SV Samson, RA Tripathi, BA Stokes, Jofra Chioke Archer, S Gopal, Riyan Parag, JD Unadkat, DS Kulkarni.
A lot of people termed Chennai Super Kings' win last year to be a fluke, but with the kind of performance they've shown this year, it is certain that the last year's title win was a result of brilliant man-management and strategy.
Chennai Super Kings have repeated exactly the same they did last year. In the tournament so far, they've picked their team as the surface and went as far as dropping the man of the match, Harbhajan Singh, in the subsequent game. The wins Chennai Super Kings have registered in the tournament thus far have all been flawless with experience playing a huge role in almost all of them.
Even though the injury to Dwayne Bravo was perceived as a big blow to the Super Kings, the way Scott Kuggleijn has done in his first two games has been commendable. Despite a batting lineup which has underperformed up until now, the fact that they've been able to win all but one matches in the competition has been commendable. It has largely been due to their superb bowling with Deepak Chahar, Imran Tahir, and Harbhajan Singh doing exceedingly well.
While the average age and consequently their fielding was a huge concern last year as well as this year, Chennai Super Kings have surprisingly been one of the safest fielding sides of the tournament. MS Dhoni has been brilliant behind the stumps both with the glovework and the way he has rotated the bowlers. All in all, Chennai Super Kings have won most of their games at home or at conditions which aid spin bowling and it will be interesting to see how they do it at the surface of Jaipur which is a lot different surface to the one they're used to play at.
SR Watson, Faf du Plessis, SK Raina, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar, Mitchell Santner, SN Thakur, Imran Tahir.
Even though Jos Buttler hasn't been as explosive as he is known to be, he has done enough damage at the top. He is likely to get a change to bat for more deliveries as compared to MS Dhoni and is therefore our selection for the wicket-keeper slot.
Picking batsmen is pretty straightforward in this encounter with Shane Watson, Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane, and Faf du Plessis all doing reasonably well. Probably the only confusion would be to pick between a batsman and an all-rounder and we decided to go with two all-rounders in Ben Stokes and Ravindra Jadeja. With Deepak Chahar doing reasonably well over the last few matches along with Imran Tahir and Scott Kuggleijn, he is our pick from CSK for bowling slot. From Rajasthan Royals, we have picked only Shreyas Gopal. We could have slotted Jofra Archer in place of Imran Tahir, but leaving Tahir out wouldn't have been wise as well.
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We are not even half-way through into the tournament, but the qualification scenarios have already started worrying at least a couple of sides, if not more and Rajasthan Royals are one of them. They have most of their overseas Stars leaving by the end of this month or early next months due to international commitments and they need to make most of their resources now. In other words, they have to win. Chennai Super Kings, on the other hand, have done brilliantly and even though their batting hasn't done as well as they'd have liked, it has done enough. We expect them to make a couple of changes for the next game, but considering the form, the two teams are in at least on-paper balance, the Super Kings are firm favorites to win the upcoming encounter.
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