Uphill task for RR to keep qualification hopes alive

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safari
01 Oct 2021 | 07:13 PM
authorShubh Aggarwal

Uphill task for RR to keep qualification hopes alive

Rajasthan face a colossal figure in Chennai with their qualification chances on the line

Chennai Super Kings had a torrid time in 2020. Rajasthan Royals defeated them in both meetings in the league stage. They were above Chennai for most part of the season. However, by the end of it, Rajasthan fell to finish last, a spot below Chennai. 

This year, Chennai has turned it around and have already qualified for the Playoffs. But things have not changed for Rajasthan. Their hopes of a Top 4 qualification hang by a thin thread. A win might not be enough but another defeat will almost close the doors on them. 

Running into Chennai at a must-win stage is not what they would have preferred but they will take confidence from the two wins against them last season. Having said that, Chennai thumped Rajasthan by 45 runs in Mumbai earlier this year. 

The Chennai lion is back to roar

Falling flat on their face last year, Chennai remained calm and instead of changing their combination, they tweaked their method a little with handy additions in the auction. One major tweak has been their intent with the bat. Last year, Chennai’s top seven batted at a strike-rate of 7.7 runs per over. This year, they have bettered it to 8.4. It has been a collective effort from everyone, except Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni, who are yet to hit form in full flow.

The foundation to go hard has been set up top by Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis. With 599 runs, they are the most prolific opening pair this season. They compliment each other well. In the Powerplay, Gaikwad has gone after the spinners (strike-rate of 176 compared to 98.6 against pace) while du Plessis is severe on pacers (strike-rate of 143.4 compared to 130.4 against spinners). 

Moeen Ali, at 3, has put a small price tag to his wicket, scoring 278 runs at a strike-rate in excess of 140. Ambati Rayudu has moved from being an accumulator to the perfect finisher. His strike-rate of 170 is the highest for a batsman with 150 runs or more. Ravindra Jadeja has gone from strength to strength with the bat. 

Consequently, Chennai have batted at a strike-rate of 150 this season, way ahead of any other team. In the middle-overs (overs 7 to 15), it is 144.3, the highest. The average is 33, the second highest. It lines up well against Rajasthan, the worst bowling line-up in the phase. 

Rajasthan also have the highest economy in this phase, leaking at 9 runs per over. The next in the line is Punjab with 7.8. The gap is alarming. 

Samson, the lone warrior

While Sanju Samson’s consistency is delightful for Rajasthan, they have been crippled in the middle by the failure of other batters. Samson has scored nearly 49 percent of Rajasthan’s runs between batting positions three to seven. It is a massive proportion underlining the reliance on one man to function the middle-order. It is high time that the Indian talent - Mahipal Lomror and Riyan Parag - step up. 

Liam Livingstone has been the biggest disappointment. The sluggish tracks are not meant for his swashbuckling batting style. However, the Englishman has not given himself much of a chance by going for the big hit at inopportune times. We might see him make way for Glenn Phillips who is better suited for such tracks given his experience of playing in the Caribbean Premier League. Riyan Parag has been another let down with only 93 runs in 10 innings. 

The all-rounder conundrum

All-rounders are an important component of any T20 side. For Rajasthan, they are not answering the calls. None of Rahul Tewatia and Chris Morris have clicked in the UAE leg. The duo has collectively scored 32 runs between them in six innings. With the ball, they both have only two wickets amongst them, both going in Tewatia’s account while Morris stay wicketless. Tewatia’s economy is 7.9, quite high given he has bowled majorly in the middle-overs. Morris has conceded at 11.3 runs per over in three games. What hurts Rajasthan the most about Morris’ form is that he is the only experienced hit-the-deck pacer in an attack largely composed of inexperienced or medium-pacers who relies on cutters. 

Moreover, there is no like for like replacement for Morris. It will be interesting to see if Rajasthan persist with Morris or not given the conundrum around his spot. Meanwhile, they can ponder replacing Tewatia with Shreyas Gopal. 

Probable XIs

Rajasthan Royals

Evin Lewis, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson (c & wk), Glenn Phillips, Mahipal Lomror, Riyan Parag, Chris Morris, Rahul Tewatia/Shreyas Gopal, Chetan Sakariya, Kartik Tyagi, Mustafizur Rahman

Chennai Super Kings

Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Moeen Ali, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Josh Hazlewood 

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Rajasthan Royals vs Chennai Super KingsIndian Premier League, 2021Chennai Super KingsRajasthan RoyalsFaf du PlessisRuturaj GaikwadMoeen AliAmbati RayuduSanju SamsonChris MorrisRahul Tewatia

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