The Indian Premier League party will reach Sharjah, the epicentre of limited overs international cricket in the late 20th century.
Rajasthan Royals will have limited options as they start their Indian Premier League 2020 campaign against an upbeat Chennai Super Kings. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Yellow Lions are fresh and upbeat from their triumph on Saturday in the season opener against defending champions Mumbai Indians.
There is still no certainty over regular skipper Steve Smith’s availability due to the concussion injury sustained during Australia’s limited-overs series in England. Cricket Australia is following on the veteran batsman’s health status with the Rajasthan Royals’ team management. They also won’t get Ben Stokes’ services for the first match.
Jos Buttler is another key absentee. That leaves the overseas options for the Royals really bleak. The players who had flown in directly from the England-Australia series bio bubble needed only 36 hours of quarantine. Since Buttler had travelled separately with his family, he will have to stay in isolation for six days before joining the IPL bio-secure bubble.
The team with its headquarters in Jaipur will struggle to find the right balance to quell the challenge of an opposition that is coming after toppling the defending champions.
An inconsistent Indian core further complicates their problems.
CSK get into the Sharjah after having successfully tried their trusted lot. Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who has not played competitive cricket for a long time now, will be eyeing to get some rhythm back with the willow.
CSK’s Lungi Ngidi was thrashed for 29 run by the Mumbai Indian batters in the first two overs. But the momentum is still with him as he rallied to pick three wickets in the next two. Seasoned Faf du Plessis was the architect-in-chief in CSK’s last win with an unbeaten 58 and three catches in the field.
The team is laced with a right balance and options in their bowling and batting units.
History at the venue also favours the Super Kings. Both the teams have played on match each in Sharjah. While Yellow Lions have happy memories from the venue, Royals will be keen to change the result from their last outing.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (captain, wk), M Vijay, Ambati Rayudu, Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, Kedar Jadhav, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Lungi Ngidi, Deepak Chahar, Piyush Chawla, Imran Tahir, Mitchell Santner, Josh Hazlewood, Shardul Thakur, Sam Curran, N Jagadeesan, KM Asif, Monu Kumar, R Sai Kishore, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Karn Sharma.
Rajasthan Royals: Steve Smith (captain), Jos Buttler, Robin Uthappa, Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Mana
n Vohra, Kartik Tyagi, Akash Singh, Oshane Thomas, Andrew Tye, David Miller, Tom Curran, Aniruddha Joshi, Shreyas Gopal, Riyan Parag, Varun Aaron, Shashank Singh, Anuj Rawat, Mahipal Lomror, Mayank Markande.
The match is scheduled to start at 7:30 pm India time. But the build-up and excitement will unfold on Star Sports Network English, Hindi and Regional channels from 6:00 pm with preview and analysis shows.
Fans on the move can also catch the action LIVE on Disney+ Hotstar.