CHENNAI: Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals have made similar starts to their IPL 14 season. After going down in their campaign openers, both CSK and RR bounced back to log in their first points. While CSK had it easy against Punjab Kings, RR got past the finish line in the final over against Delhi Capitals.
The two sides, who face off at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Monday, will want to build on their first wins and gain momentum going forward.
Will CSK tweak their opening combination? Ruturaj Gaikwad was one of the finds of the last season for CSK. However, the 24-year-old CSK opener has failed to fire in the two outings so far — managing just 10 runs in total. With Moeen Ali coming good in the two games, it will be interesting to see if CSK rejig their opening combination by promoting the England all-rounder to start alongside Faf du Plessis.
Faf’s steady presence and Moeen Ali’s fluent stroke-making could provide the firepower CSK have been missing at the top. CSK also have the option of trying left-hander Sam Curran to open with Faf. The rest of the batting order for CSK looks more or less settled.
CSK get pace injection in the form of Ngidi: After the loss against Delhi Capitals, coach Stephen Fleming had lamented about his side missing an out-and-out quick. The CSK pacers looked clueless against the onslaught of Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan.
The options now open up as South Africa’s Ngidi Lungi is available for selection after completing his quarantine. However, with CSK’s bowlers — led by Deepak Chahar — coming to the party against Punjab, it remains to be seen if the team think-tank will want to alter a winning combination. Australian pacer Jason Behrendorff, too, will join the squad on April 20. Jason comes in place of Josh Hazlewood who pulled out due to bubble fatigue.
Starting trouble for RR: The Sanju Samson-led side has endured poor starts in both their games. The Ben Stokes-Manan Vohra opening combination failed to trouble the scorers against Punjab. In the game against Delhi Capitals, Jos Buttler opened with Vohra and fetched just 13 runs for the first wicket. With Stokes out of the competition with a finger injury, RR will hope Buttler gets into the groove against the CSK. Bringing in the experienced David Miller has added more meat to RR’s middle-order.
The South African southpaw rescued the side with a fine 62 against Delhi after the top-order fell cheaply. Miller laid the platform for Chris Morris to finish things off.
Left is right for RR: Royals possess three prominent left-arm pacers in Bangladesh’s Mustafizur Rahman, Jaydev Unadkat and Chetan Sakariya. But it also means that the attack will lack variation — at least on paper —and the experienced CSK batting is known to feed off anything that is not top draw.