Chennai: The in-form dynamic opening Rajasthan Royals pair of Jos Buttler and Yashasvi Jaiswal will face a quality ‘Spin Test’ on a tricky Chepauk pitch when they lock horns with some world-class short-format tweakers in the Chennai Super Kings line-up in an IPL match here Wednesday.
The England white-ball skipper and his young Indian partner have both scored a couple of half-centuries each and that too at healthy strike-rates — 180.95 for Buttler and 164.47 for Jaiswal.
But in the three games that Royals have played so far, two were in Guwahati, which was the flattest batting deck amongst all the venues. The Hyderabad track was also loaded heavily in favour of batters.
And, suddenly, they come to Chennai where the ball can grip and also get slower as the match progresses. The toss is always an important factor in Chennai as chasing anything above 170 to 175 could be a risky proposition.
Especially when Moeen Ali, Ravindra Jadeja and Mitchell Santner are operating at the Chepauk and might bowl 10, if not 12, overs between them. Matches can be won and lost there.
The three seasoned CSK campaigners have taken 11 wickets between them in three games but, more importantly, their economy rate has been very impressive.
Moeen has bowled at an economy rate of 6.50 in two games while Jadeja (6.88) and Santner (6.75) have also gone for less than seven runs per over.
Moeen missed the last game due to food poisoning and is expected to play the game in place of Sisanda Magala, while Dwaine Pretorius will fill in as an all-rounder in case Ben Stokes is not fit.
But by no means Royals’ spinners could be taken lightly as the wily ‘Cricket Scientist’ Ravichandran Ashwin has played all his cricket at this very ground and the intelligent Yuzvendra Chahal can outfox any batter on a given day. Add the other Tamil Nadu spinner Murugan Ashwin in the mix and CSK will also have their own set of challenges.
However, CSK will be missing Deepak Chahar, who is expected to be out of the tournament due to recurrence of a left hamstring injury.
Whether Dhoni prefers the erratic but pacey Rajvardhan Hangargekar or the incisive Simarjeet Singh will be a big question.
On the batting front, the vastly experienced Ajinkya Rahane showed he too could score quickly on his CSK debut as the team turned in a strong performance with spinners Jadeja and Santner doing a fine job.
Add the good run of Ruturaj Gaikwad at the top of the order and CSK do have a formidable batting line-up. But they would be up against an equally well-endowed Royals team.
It promises to be an interesting battle on the morrow with the two sides boasting of a strong batting unit, and the onus would be on the bowlers to seize the moment.
In skipper Sanju Samson and Shimron Hetmyer, the Royals have batters who can play big shots and boost the score.
The pace unit comprising Trent Boult and Jason Holder looks better than CSK’s on paper but how the respective attacks fare on the given day could determine the game’s outcome.
The wicket at the M A Chidambaram stadium offered bounce in the game against Lucknow Super Giants and it remains to be seen if similar conditions are on offer. Nevertheless, an interesting battle is in store.
Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c & wk), Devon Conway, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ambati Rayudu, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Ravindra Jadeja, Ajinkya Rahane, Sisanda Magala, Shivam Dube, Dwaine Pretorius, Ahay Mandal, Nishant Sindhu, Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Mitchell Santner, Subharnshu Senapati, Simarjeet Singh, Matheesa Pathirana, Mahesh Theekshana, Bhagath Verma, Prashant Solanki, Shaikh Rasheed, Tushar Deshpande.
Rajasthan Royals: Jos Buttler, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson (c & wk), Dhruv Jorel, Riyan Parag, Shimron Hetmyer, R Ashwin, Jason Holder, Trent Boult, Sandeep Sharma, Yuzvendra Chahal, Navdeep Saini, M Ashwin, K M Asif, K C Cariappa, Donovan Ferreira, Devdutt Padikkal, Obey McCoy, Joe Root, Kuldeep Sen, Akash Vashist, Kuldip Yadav, Adam Zampa, Abdul Basith.
Match starts at 7.30 PM (IST).