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Crush clash for Super Kings

Defending champion takes on Rajasthan Royals needing a win

Crush clash for Super Kings

Moeen Ali and Daryl Mitchell came good against Gujarat Titans

CHENNAI: In need of a win to firm-up its position in the IPL playoff race, Chennai Super Kings has the heavy task of nullifying a deeply hurt and frustrated Rajasthan Royals here on Sunday.

Let’s take a quick assessment of the two protagonists’ situations. The Super Kings are currently fourth in the standings with 12 points from as many games but the defeat against Gujarat Titans on Friday has added dollops of pressure on them, and now they need victory in their remaining two matches.

The Royals, on the other hand, are second with 16 points but they are smarting from two successive defeats against Sunrisers Hyderabad, which was by just a run, and Delhi Capitals.

They are in no real danger of missing the playoff spot, but the Sanju Samson-led side will be eager to return to winning ways at the earliest and enter the knockouts.

What had hurt CSK against GT was the malfunction of its top-order consisting of Ajinkya Rahane, Rachin Ravindra and skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad and they would be desperate to regain the momentum at Chepauk.

Ravindra might be given another go against Royals, but it could be a make-or-break situation for him.

Although it was pleasing to see Daryl Mitchell and Moeen Ali among runs, Shivam Dube, who has been CSK’s bulwark this season, has gone silent ever since he was selected to the Indian team for the upcoming T20 World Cup. Having scored a 13-ball 21 against GT, he has twin causes to fire -- to justify his selection for the World Cup and carry his team closer to the playoffs.

As for the CSK’s bowling, Tushar Deshpande once again fired against GT while Shardul Thakur surprised all with his economical outing.

However, the Chennai bowlers are expected to buckle up and do well in this fixture at home, their strong area.

The low amount of dew in this afternoon clash might help CSK spinners. On the other hand, desperate to end the losing streak, Rajasthan could not have asked for a more suitable opponent than an unsteady CSK.

Opener Yashasvi Jaiswal, who has not been at his best this season, will be desperate to prove his mettle before travelling to the Americas for the T20 World Cup.

Rajasthan Royals’s Riyan Parag during a practice session

Skipper Samson will have several eyes on him, given the fact that he too is World Cup-bound, and he would seek more support from the likes of Riyan Parag, Shubham Dubey and Rovman Powell.

Veteran spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who took three wickets in the last tie against DC, will fancy his chances on his home track and the presence of experienced Yuzvendra Chahal will add more strength to RR bowling unit.

However, Avesh Khan was not so impressive against Delhi but might still get another chance as he needs to gain some confidence before travelling for the World Cup as a reserve.

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