Sharjah: After an impressive outing in their IPL campaign opener against reigning champions Mumbai Indians (MI), the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings (CSK) will be up against the 2008 champions Rajasthan Royals in their second game of the season at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium here on Tuesday.
For the Steve Smith-captained Royals, this will be the first match of the season. Looking at CSK's close win over Mumbai, the Royals' team management would seek something extra from their players against the three-time champions that have dominated the league in almost every season.
The 'Yellow Brigade' started the season in the absence of two of their star players -- Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh - who have opted out of the tournament for personal reasons. However, class acts by Ambati Rayudu (71) and Faf du Plessis (58 not out) ensured the CSK a comfortable win against arch-rivals Mumbai Indians in Abu Dhabi.
Despite getting jolted in the initial overs, Rayudu and du Plessis steadied the ship for Chennai, making the Mumbai bowlers work hard in the hot and humid conditions.
Murli Vijay and Shane Watson opened for against Mumbai but both failed to fire. The duo would try to leave the past behind when they face the Royals on Tuesday. Moreover, Sam Curran, who was promoted by Dhoni ahead of himself, didn't disappoint his team after playing a cameo of 18 runs off six balls.
While the CSK's batting looks quite settled, their bowlers too didn't disappoint. After initial onslaught by MI opener Quinton de Kock, SaurabhTiwary and skipper Rohit Sharma, they made a comeback in the game and struck their opponents at regular intervals.
The Chennai bowlers ensured their arch-rivals didn't put up a big total and that played a crucial role in Chennai's five-wicket win. Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla may not be considered as a vital cog in the CSK side, However, the 31-year-old bowler bought all his past experience into play and utilised the conditions quite effectively as he ended with a appreciable figures in his allotted quota of overs.
Similarly, Lungi Ngidi, Ravindra Jadeja, and Deepak Chahar also stepped it up when it mattered for Chennai. But the team management would certainly hope that the trio don't leak many runs like in the previous game.
On the other hand, barring the inaugural season in 2008, Royals are yet to take the trophy home, despite having some quality players in almost every season.
Eyeing a decent outing this time, the Royals management has signed T20 specialists, both from the Indian domestic circuit and abroad. With the experienced players like Robin Uthappa, Shreyas Gopal and Varun Aaron, and youngsters like Yashaswi Jaiswal, Riyan Parag, and Kartik Tyagi, the Royals have tried to form a perfect blend.
Moreover, with star all-rounder like Ben Stokes and skipper Smith, the Royals boast some high quality cricketers. While Stokes is undoubtedly one of the best all-rounders of the modern day cricket, Smith has shown his leadership quality in almost every format.
Royals will also hope the opener Jos Buttler replicates his 2019 form when he amassed 311 runs from just eight matches. The Englishman is expected to give explosive starts and if he gets equal support from Sanju Samson, Royals could either overhaul targets or set some massive ones.
The major cause of concern for the Royals' team management will be the absence of Stokes, who is currently in New Zealand with his ailing father and his arrival is still undecided. The team will bank heavily on Stokes and the sooner he joins the team, the better it will be for them.
With, Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat, Varun Aaron, Ankit Rajpoot, Rahul Tewatia, Mayank Markande, Oshane Thomas, and Andrew Tye, Royals also have a lot to offer on the bowling front. However, it will depend on how fast they adapt to the hot and sultry conditions here.
Going by the past encounters between the two teams, the CSK unquestionably hold an edge over the Royals as they have emerged victorious 14 times from 21 games while the Jaipur-based franchise has won the remaining clashes. But Tuesday will a new chapter and it could be anybody's game.