All eyes will be on the pitch of Chidambaram Stadium, as defending champions Chennai Super Kings host Rajasthan Royals in their second home fixture on Sunday.
The slowness of the track drew criticism from both Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, when Royal Challengers Bangalore played Chennai Super Kings in what turned out to be a dud of a season opener. RCB were bundled out for 70, a total that CSK took their own time to chase. Stating that the track needs to be better, Dhoni had said, “I never expected the wicket to play how it played. I think something close to 140 you are looking at. I think the wicket needs to get much better.”
After being content with a low-scoring contest in the season opener, it will be interesting to see how the pitch behaves on Sunday.
Chennai have started the season on a high note with two straight wins and will look to carry forward their winning momentum against bottom-placed Rajasthan. After mauling Bangalore in their first encounter, the MS Dhoni-led side rode on a team effort to overpower Delhi Capitals in their second match.
The bowling unit of CSK have so far been the key element in their success in the ongoing season and the franchise will hope the batters to get in the groove too. Both the spinners, Harbhajan Singh and Imran Tahir, have been in supreme form as the duo has scalped seven wickets so far in two matches.
Rajasthan, on the other hand, are still in the hunt for their first win of the season. The two defeats that they have faced thus far came despite the fact that they were in a position of strength at one stage.
The Ajinkya Rahane-led side lost by 14 runs against Kings XI Punjab in their opening fixture and went down against Sunrisers Hyderabad in a high-scoring clash on Friday.
Sanju Samson, on Friday, became the first batsman to notch up a century in the ongoing season but his efforts went in vain as David Warner and Jonny Bairstow put on a splendid show against the Rajasthan bowling lineup to help the team chase down a mammoth 199-run target with six balls to spare.
The onus would be on the bowlers to find ways to contain a mighty CSK batting unit if the Rajasthan want to see a reversal of fortunes. It will be a contest between Rajasthan’s formidable batting line-up comprising Rahane, Buttler, Steve Smith, Ben Stokes and Samson versus a spin-heavy CSK bowling.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (captain & WK), 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, David Willey, Deepak Chahar, N Jagadeesan (wk)
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