A struggling Rajasthan Royals will desperately seek to revive their campaign when they host formidable Chennai Super Kings in an Indian Premier League encounter here on Thursday. Rajasthan are currently lying in the penultimate spot in the eight-team standings with just one win out of five games. Rajasthan's sole win came against laggards Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium here and they would be banking on home comfort to upset defending champions CSK.
In contrast, CSK are coming off a clinical seven-wicket thrashing of Kolkata Knight Riders and are sitting pretty at the top of the table with five victories from six games.
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Under the astute captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, CSK boasts of a perfectly balanced squad to excel on any surface and all conditions.
The Royals, on the other hand, are still struggling to find their bearings. After losing their last match, they find themselves in a precarious position and have to win almost all their remaining games to keep their playoff chances alive.
Rajasthan have failed to seize opportunities in their earlier matches and in the previous outing against KKR, they were totally outplayed on home turf.
Sanju Samson, who had cracked the first ton of this IPL, is still recovering from an injury and after a bright start to the season, Jos Butler too has failed in the last couple of innings.
The biggest positive for Rajasthan will be the return to form of former Australian captain Steve Smith. Smith scored 38 against RCB before anchoring his team to 139 with an unbeaten 73 against KKR.
Skipper Ajinkya Rahane, Rahul Tripathi and Ben Stokes too have been below par with the bat. To add to their woes, Rajasthan don't have the depth and bench strength to overcome the tough situation.
Rajasthan's bowling too appears to be lacking in ideas and the likes of Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat, and Dhawal Kulkarni will have to pull up their socks against an in-form CSK.
However, captain Rahane feels there is no need to hit the panic button yet.
"I think there's no need for us to panic yet. Out of the five matches that we played, we lost badly in just one game. We played well in our last four matches, out of which we could have won three. It's not too late for us," he had said after the loss against KKR.
CSK, on the other hand, will be brimming with confidence having defeated the Royals earlier in the season when Dhoni smashed an unbeaten 75 to clinch an eight-run victory.
CSK's bowling unit, which has an impressive mix of pace and spin, will look to exploit the Sawai Man Singh wicket, which has been playing slow and low.
The Teams (From):
Rajasthan Royals: Ajinkya Rahane (C), Steve Smith, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Ashton Turner, Ish Sodhi, Oshane Thomas, Liam Livingstone, Sanju Samson, Shubham Ranjane, Stuart Binny, Shreyas Gopal, Sudhesan Midhun, Jaydev Unadkat, Prashant Chopra, Mahipal Lomror, Aryaman Birla, Riyan Parag, Dhawal Kulkarni, Krishnappa Gowtham, Varun Aaron, Shashank Singh, Manan Vohra, Rahul Tripathi.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (C), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Murali Vijay, Kedar Jadhav, Sam Billings, Ravindra Jadeja, Dhruv Shorey, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Rituraj Gaikwad, Dwayne Bravo, Karn Sharma, Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Santner, Shardul Thakur, Mohit Sharma, K M Asif, Deepak Chahar, N Jagadeesan, Scott Kuggeleign.
Match starts 8 pm.