Winners of the inaugural edition of the IPL Rajasthan Royals take on three-time champions Chennai Super Kings in the fourth game of the season at Sharjah. The Royals start their campaign without two of their mainstays Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes. CSK are coming off a win against the defending champions. As the two teams prepare to take on each other, we look at some of the key matchups and tactics:

The Middle Overs Woes for RR:

Rajasthan Royals in the last couple of seasons have struggled to contain the opposition in the middle overs, conceding 8.32 runs per over, the second most after Kolkata Knight Riders. The numbers are even more worrisome against CSK.

CSK in Middle Overs (7-15) since 2018Runs per OverRuns per Wicket
vs Rajasthan Royals8.6462.20
vs Others7.5834.11

CSK score nearly one run per over more against RR than they do against others. But what will worry RR more is the runs per wicket, as CSK have scored 62.20 runs per every dismissal in middle overs against them. The lack of wicket-taking options apart from Shreyas Gopal is a major cause of concern, especially with an in-form and formidable CSK middle order.

All these numbers make the selection of Mayank Markande more imperative. Markande in the opening game of 2018 troubled the entire CSK lineup and also got the big wicket of Dhoni, who has been terrific against RR off late.

RR’s Answer to CSK’s Spinners:

CSK have undoubtedly one of the best spin attacks this season. In the first game against MI, Chawla did not let the men in yellow miss the experienced Tahir and Jadeja after being expensive in the first three overs came back to bowl an over which proved to be the turning point in the match. The majority of the Royals batsmen available for the game have been troubled by the spin trio of Jadeja, Chawla and Tahir in the last 3 years.

vs CSK spinner (Jadeja, Chawla and Tahir) since 2017Strike RateAverage
Robin Uthappa172.9764.00
Others (Smith, Samson, Miller and Parag)100.8723.20

Smith has particularly struggle against Jadeja while Chawla has dismissed Samson twice in 13 balls. It is the experienced Robin Uthappa who has been successful against the CSK spinners by counter-attacking them. He has scored ata strike rate of 172.97 against Jadeja and Tahir and has been dismissed only one in 37 balls. Moreover, having spent a considerable amount of time with Chawla in the KKR camp, Uthappa is the best equipped man to take on him. Having struggled against pace off late, Uthappa has a strike rate of 172 and 136 against wrist spinners and slow left-arm orthodox spinners since 2018. Ideally he should be coming in at 3 or 4, where he can take on the CSK spinners.

The Jofra Scare for CSK:

RR’s pace spearhead Jofra Archer has been magnificent against the CSK batsmen in the limited opportunities he has got so far. He is yet to bowl to Faf and is yet to dismiss Dhoni and Jadeja, but has terrific numbers against all others, especially against teh in-form Rayudu. Rayudu has been dismissed twice in 13 balls by Jofra and has scored just 4 runs.

vs Dhoni30400
vs Others27135

Archer has conceded 2.89 runs per over and picked a wicket every 5.4 balls against CSK batsmen barring Dhoni. The English pacer will hold the key in providing key breakthroughs in the powerplay and break into teh CSK middle order.

However, the CSK skipper has so far dominated Jofra. Scoring at a strike rate of 133.33, Dhoni is yet to be dismissed by Archer after facing 30 balls. Despite getting hit once on the helmet in Archer’s bowling, Dhoni has been able to get the better of him and he will be CSK’s best bet to take on the fiery pacer at the death.