IPL 2018, CSK vs RR Match Prediction: Who will win today's match between Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals
Three games and almost three thrilling heists. That has been the mantra for the Chennai Super Kings. For the Royals, who have only batted first in this tournament so far, their results have been far from consistent and they might feel the need to switch things around as they take on MS Dhoni's side.
Both teams are level on points but CSK have played a game fewer and can go to the top of the table with a convincing win over the Royals in their new home for the rest of the season.
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The fitness of Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni is the major concern for CSK, who have been masters of the thrilling heists so far this season. Although they came up just short against Kings XI Punjab, they have shown a penchant for chasing down any total that has been set.
For the Royals, the decision to pick Jofra Archer or not will once again arise as will the quandary of whether to put D'Arcy Short out of his misery, especially against a strong spin bowling line-up on a bowler friendly track. Heinrich Klaasen could well make his debut but the Royals need their top-order firing on all cylinders consistently and they would do well to start that from the game against CSK.
It will be interesting to see who comes out on top in this battle between bat and ball. Let's take a look at how the match might turn out:
Date: April 20
Venue: Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune
Time: 20:00 IST
If Chennai Super Kings bat first
Predicted score: 150+
Chennai Super Kings will be fretting on the fitness of Suresh Raina and Mahendra Singh Dhoni as they look to bounce back from their loss against Kings XI Punjab. The fact that they will have to adjust to a new home ground especially after picking a squad tailor-made for Chepauk won't be easy but that is their new reality.
The good thing is that the Pune track isn't a high-scoring one and is known to assist the spinners. Despite that, the fact that CSK had to rely on incredible heists in all three games so far in the season is proof that the team is far from its best shape.
The Indian pace attack looks bare and it might be time to bolster the pace attack by bringing in David Willey and that would increase their batting depth as well. However, how much they score will largely defend on the availability of Raina and Dhoni. While CSK did alright in Raina's absence in the last match, they don't have enough batting depth to compensate for both players and especially Dhoni's captaincy.
However, the good news is that both players look set to play. And with a brisk start from the new-look opening duo of Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu will be ideal. As will Suresh Raina continuing his incredible form against the Royals that has seen him amass 471 in 17 innings.
While Dwayne Bravo, MS Dhoni and Sam Billings have contributed over the first three games, they still need to fix their lower middle-order if they are to progress deep into the tournament. Although they have the best death overs batting in the tournament so far, they need to show that they can do it while batting first as well.
If Rajasthan Royals bat first
Predicted score: 160+
Rajasthan Royals have quite a few concerns so early in the tournament. Big things were expected of D'Arcy Short and so far he has failed to deliver and while the form of Sanju Samson and Ajinkya Rahane is promising, they have too many players, batting lower than they should in the batting line-up.
Having Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler come in at No.5 and No.6 doesn't make the best use of their talents. If they don't decide to give Short another go, they could just move everyone up a spot in the batting order and get in Heinrich Klaasen, who is a designated finisher and is also established against spin.
If the Royals are to win this game while batting first, against a team that is known for chasing down huge totals, they need to get off to a good start. Although the pitch is unlikely to be a featherbed, considering how well CSK have played so far this season, RR will need an above-par score to stand a good chance of winning.
If that is to happen, Rahane has to convert his quick starts into big scores and they will need their middle-order to fire. Against a bowling attack that is far from the most threatening in the competition, they have as good a chance as any of doing just that.
Neither side has a particularly strong bowling line-up and have batting as their primary way of winning games. And while RR might have more variety in their bowling line-up, they have struggled to get going consistently, with both bat and ball. The presence of Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni gives CSK the edge in the batting department. Considering that the former was just dethroned from top spot on the list of most runs in IPL history and hasn't fired so far, Raina could well decide the match and that is why CSK will go in as favourites on a bowler-friendly track.
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