In the past two years the teams have undergone several changes.
Both teams have been involved in several close encounters before their suspension for the past couple of years. However, this particular contest is not as much hyped as a Mumbai-Chennai clash. Royals have done their job in an unfazed manner which hasn’t made them hog the limelight.
In the past two years the teams have undergone several changes. However, there are members of both teams who are well used to the conditions in Pune having played for the Rising Pune Supergiant in the last two years.
The inaugural champions, Rajasthan have had a mixed start to the tournament so far. They have won a couple and lost a couple so far. The big players Ben Stokes and Jaydev Unadkat who were bought at whopping prices have failed to come good so far. Sanju Samson has been the man in form for the Rajasthan Royals and has looked a class apart.
However, he failed in the previous encounter which should encourage him to come back stronger today.
Meanwhile their skipper Ajinkya Rahane has also got off to steady starts but has failed to convert it into a big one. He laid the foundation in the previous match with 20-ball 39 before perishing. Opener D’Arcy Short has also found it difficult to cope with the spin despite coming to India on the back of some terrific form in this format of the game.
On the other hand, the two-time champions, Chennai Super Kings have been thoroughly entertaining in all three matches so far. It was Dwayne Bravo’s heroics which handed them a sensational come from behind victory in the first while Sam Billings was the Man of the Moment in the 2nd.
It was undoubtedly the best Dhoni innings in the recent past. He looked the same old Dhoni and made a match out of nowhere. Chennai was never in the game during the chase.
However, some sublime hitting by the skipper helped the yellow brigade claw their way back in to the match before falling short by four runs. Dhoni’s knock of 79 came in 44 deliveries which included six fours and five sixes.
Chennai Super Kings
CSK coach, Michael Hussey is confident of the fact that MS Dhoni should pull through for today’s game after sustaining a back injury in Mohali. Meanwhile, Suresh Raina is expected to miss at least today’s match despite taking part in the nets. His legs were heavily strapped.
Meanwhile, Mark Wood or David Willey might be part of the playing XI and is expected to replace one of the Indian pacers. If that is the case then Imran Tahir will make way for Karn Sharma.
Predicted XI: Shane Watson, Murali Vijay, Ambati Rayudu, Sam Billings, MS Dhoni (C & WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Harbhajan Singh, Mark Wood/David Willey, Karn Sharma/Imran Tahir, Shardul Thakur/Deepak Chahar.
There is a temptation to play Henrich Klaasen in the favour of D’Arcy Short to take on the spin threat from Chennai.
However, if the pitch has grass, then Short might be given an extended run. Jofra Archer has been part of the practice sessions but hasn’t been match fit yet. If he is fit, Ben Laughlin will make way for him.
Predicted XI: Ajinkya Rahane (C), Rahul Tripathi, Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Heinrich Klaasen, Jos Buttler (WK), Krishnappa Gowtham, Shreyas Gopal, Ben Laughlin/Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat, Dhawal Kulkarni
However, I have a gut feeling that Chennai will come out triumphant today.