At Chepauk, CSK and RR hope to win the spin fight

Except for Rajasthan Royals, nobody challenges Chennai Super Kings in their own match in Chepauk. India’s finest offspinner and best legspinner are both members of the Jaipur team, thus playing them both on a turning ground can be challenging for any team. They can also select Adam Zampa or employ Murugan Ashwin as a crucial substitute, if necessary.

Given that the Royals’ last two games were played in batting-friendly circumstances in Guwahati, the shift in strategy will be rather significant for the team’s batsmen. However, based on past performance, their batters may still be superior over CSK in turning conditions. 

In the IPL over the past five years, Jos Buttler has a remarkable record against finger spin, averaging over 100 with a strike rate of 156. Given that Sanju Samson has a strong history against left-arm spinners (SR of 161.93), he might also attend the event.

The key question is how CSK will be able to combat all of that as they aim for their third straight victory after dropping the first game. After a decisive victory against rival Mumbai Indians, where their own spinnery of Mitchell Santner and Ravindra Jadeja played a major role, CSK enters this game on a high note. After arriving in time from New Zealand on Wednesday, April 12, Maheesh Theekshana is set to form a troika. 

Ajinkya Rahane’s brilliant start for the team provides them many reasons to be confident in the batting department, especially with Ben Stokes also expected to miss this game. But if Rahane continues to bat at No. 3, his historical struggles against spin, which date back to his prime, may be put to the test. We could be in for a letdown if the Chepauk surface turns out to be rather flat, as it was last week against the Lucknow Super Giants, despite all the anticipation of a mouthwatering spin war between these two teams. 

That evening, more than 420 runs were scored, and MS Dhoni acknowledged that he was shocked by the performance of the playing surface. If a similar surface is provided, perhaps for a change, the likelihood that the fortress will not be breached will stay high.

When: April 12, 19:30 IST on Wednesday

Where: Chennai’s MA Chidambaram Stadium

What to expect: As he said following the LSG game, sometimes even Dhoni is unsure of what to anticipate. The ODI surface last month against Australia helped turn, whilst the one against LSG was a belter.


Chennai Super Kings

Matheesha Pathirana and Maheesh Theekshana recently joined the team before the match. The former will probably fit in right immediately. Ben Stokes and Deepak Chahar are expected to sit out, while Moeen Ali’s availability will help CSK.

Strategies and match-ups: Ruturaj Gaikwad had a strong start to the IPL this year. Trent Boult, on the other hand, has a dismal record against him, having dismissed him three times in a span of 21 deliveries. CSK must make sure Devon Conway, a New Zealand teammate, is able to neutralize Boult’s early danger.

Ajinkya Rahane, Moeen Ali, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, MS Dhoni (C & WK), Mitchell Santner, Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Maheesh Theekshana, and Tushar Deshpande make up the probable XI.

Rajasthan Royals

Matchups and tactics: This season, CSK has had the worst economy rate (11.44) in the powerplay. Yashasvi Jaiswal, a top batter for the Royals, is the perfect choice to fully offset that. Unbelievably, the young left-hander is hitting close to 200 in the powerplay this year, and if the track turns out to be slow, that phase might make all the difference.

Sanju Samson (C & WK), Dhruv Jurel/Devdutt Padikkal, Shimron Hetmyer, Riyan Parag, Jason Holder, R Ashwin, M Ashwin, Trent Boult, and Yuzvendra Chahal make up the probable starting lineup.


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