IPL 2020: Chennai hold the aces against depleted Rajasthan

CHENNAI: Chennai Super Kings (CSK) couldn’t have hoped for a better start to their Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign. Despite a chaotic build-up to the season with the withdrawal of Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh and a few Covid-19 cases in the camp upon landing in the UAE, MS Dhoni and his boys showed in their opening game against defending champions Mumbai Indians that they can thrive in the most difficult of circumstances.
The CSK skipper will want more of the same from his troops when they take on Rajasthan Royals in Sharjah on Tuesday. Rajasthan Royals, of course, will be getting their first feel of the tournament but are already disadvantaged by the absence of two England stars: Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes.
It should give CSK the upper hand. While West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Bravo is unlikely to play on Tuesday due to a niggle despite training in the nets on Sunday, the baby-faced Sam Curran exhibited against Mumbai his capability to step into big shoes. His bowling figures of 4-0-28-1 were tidy, and his cameo of 18 from 6 balls was a sign of his batting utility.

The England all-rounder’s brief innings got Dhoni excited too, prompting him to later remark that Curran could be used in the future as a floater when the situation demands. With Ambati Rayudu, Lungi Ngidi and Faf du Plessis also making important contributions in the very first game, the CSK juggernaut seems ready to roll.
“There was some anxiousness before the first game. But it was a very good game for us. We hope to keep up the same spirit. Bravo remains doubtful, but the rest are available,” a CSK official told TOI.
If CSK were nitpicking, the one area where they would want more is from their opening partnership. Both Shane Watson and Murali Vijay looked rusty and fallible to the swinging ball on the opening night. As Dhoni pointed out, the ball can be expected to do a bit under lights in the UAE and the opening duo will have to brace up for that in the coming games.
For Rajasthan, Steve Smith, Jofra Archer and David Miller will be expected to stamp their authority. What may be equally integral to their season, though, is how the young guns in the Royals camp shape up.

In Yashasvi Jaiswal, they arguably have the most exciting young Indian talent going around. The left-handed opener was the star of India’s U-19 World Cup campaign earlier this year and already has a double century in List A cricket under his belt.
Royals also have Riyan Parag – who showed glimpses of his promise last season – in their ranks. The onus of guiding these 18-year-olds will be on Robin Uthappa and Sanju Samson.
Samson, in particular, needs to step up now. He has had a few big scores in the IPL and fleeting chances at international level, but it can be argued that he is yet to fully justify the immense potential that the likes of Rahul Dravid initially saw. With Buttler and Stokes unavailable on Tuesday, Samson has an ideal opportunity to make a sizeable impact. His team will need it against a strong CSK unit.
Ruturaj available for selection
CSK’s uncapped player Ruturaj Gaikwad has recovered from Covid-19 and is back training with the team. The 23-year-old batsman had tested positive last month and had to be in quarantine for more than two weeks having tested positive subsequently as well. A CSK official informed that he has now cleared all the necessary tests and is available for selection.

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