CSK play their first home game at Pune © AFP
CSK play their first home game at Pune © AFP

Match No.17 of VIVO IPL 2018 will see Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) clash against each other at the former’s new home ground in Pune. This will be CSK’s first match after they changed their home venue from Chennai, following protest back home in Tamil Nadu. It will be interesting to see players who have known each other from Rising Pune Supergiant go up head-to-head from different teams. Chennai are coming from a narrow loss against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), while Rajasthan were comprehensively beaten by Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).

MS Dhoni-led CSK started well and notched up 2 wins but could not pull it off against Punjab earlier this week. There have been individual brilliances that have gotten them past the finish line; Sam Billings and Dwayne Bravo. Players likes Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja and Shane Watson need to step up their game, 20-30s won’t be enough to help them win matches. From the bowling point of view, Harbhajan Singh and Imran Tahir need to take wickets in the middle-overs for CSK, which has been their problem.

Rajasthan have a problem of plenty in their side. Lack of runs from D’Arcy Short, Ben Stokes and Rahul Tripathi are hurting them big time. Ajiknya Rahane and Sanju Samson alone have managed to keep the scoreboard ticking from match-to-match. Short’s inability to get a move on early on, has been Royals’ Achilles Heel in the match against Kolkata Knight Riders.

Short could likely be replaced by Heinrich Klaasen.

Jaydev Unadkat has not lived up to his price; he has been leaking runs like tap water. K Gowtham and Shreyas Gopal have been Royals’ go to bowlers, who have provided them with crucial breakthroughs. Stokes was economical against KKR, but lacked sharpness in the end overs.

Likely XIs

Chennai Super Kings:  Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Murali Vijay, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Sam Billings, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Deepak Chahar, Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir, Shardul Thakur

Rajasthan Royals:  Ajinkya Rahane (c),Rahul Tripathi, Sanju Samson (wk), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Heinrich Klassen, K Gowtham, Shreyas Gopal, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaydev Unadkat, Ben Laughlin

Predictions: It is a match between two equal sides. Despite a flurry of stars, gelling of domestic players is a must. CSK in that sense have Dhoni to take care of the team, Rahane on the other hand needs to get his voice straight. CSK have a slight edge today.