The Royals did not have a memorable 2019, ending at the seventh position, and thus will be keen to get off to a good start this year. With the dynamic Ben Stokes unavailable for the first part of the tournament, and Jos Buttler being forced to miss the game owing to quarantine protocols, the Royals will depend heavily on skipper Steve Smith to deliver in the opening encounter against Chennai. They have Robin Uthappa and David Miller in their ranks, who will have to call in all their experience. In the absence of Buttler, there is a high chance of IPL getting its first glimpse of the talented Yashasvi Jaiswal as an opener.
It is in the bowling department that Royals can give Chennai a run for their money. Jofra Archer is right up there among the best pacers in the business today, and he can make life difficult for a few of the CSK batsmen. He will be seeking support from the likes of Tom Curran and Ankit Rajpoot or Jaydev Unadkat, whoever plays. The spin department will be led by Shreyas Gopal, who was highly impressive last year with 20 wickets, which included a hat-trick against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Chennai, on the other hand, would be keen to build on the momentum from the Mumbai win. They would be pleased with the efforts of Ambati Rayudu and Faf du Plessis, who batted sensibly in the chase. The duo once again reiterated that experience matters irrespective of the format. Sam Curran also played a brilliant cameo to swing the momentum of the game after doing a good job with the bat. While Chennai wouldn’t be worried about Shane Watson’s failure, they would want Murali Vijay to get among the runs to be sure that he is the man to open with Watson.
CSK’s bowlers came back well after taking a beating initially, with all the bowlers getting among the wickets. They were well supported in the field as well.
Head to Head Record: In 22 matches between the two, Chennai have won 14 and Royals 8.
RR Probable XI: Robin Uthappa, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Steve Smith (c), Sanju Samson (wk), Riyan Parag, David Miller, Rahul Tewatia, Tom Curran, Shreyas Gopal, Jofra Archer, Ankit Rajpoot/Jaydev Unadkat
CSK Probable XI: Murali Vijay, Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, Sam Curran, MS Dhoni (C & WK), Kedar Jadhav, Deepak Chahar, Piyush Chawla, Lungi Ngidi
The pitch at Sharjah is usually in the batsmen’s favour. Spinners can make an impact if they bowl sensibly. Not much dew expected.
The weather is predicted to be hot and sunny, temperatures may even touch 40 degrees Celsius with humidity being 42 per cent.