Struggling Royals host Super Kings

TIME TO STEP UP: Rajasthan Royals will count on spinner Shreyas Gopal (second right) and in-form Steven Smith to get them over the line against Chennai Super Kings on Thursday. AFP

A struggling Rajasthan Royals will desperately seek to revive their campaign when they host formidable Chennai Super Kings in an Indian Premier League encounter here on Thursday.

Rajasthan are currently lying in the penultimate spot of the eight-team standings with just one win out of five games. Their sole win coming against laggards Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium here and they would be banking on home comfort to upset defending champions CSK.

In contrast, CSK are coming off a clinical seven-wicket thrashing of Kolkata Knight Riders and are sitting pretty at the top of the table with five victories from six games.

Under the astute captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, CSK boasts of a perfectly balanced squad to excel on any surface and all conditions.

The Royals, on the other hand, are still struggling to find their bearings. After losing their last match, they find themselves in a precarious position, and have to win almost all their remaining games to keep their play-off chances alive.

Rajasthan have failed to seize opportunities in their earlier matches and in the previous outing against KKR, they were totally outplayed on home turf.

Sanju Samson, who had cracked the first ton of this IPL, is still recovering from an injury and after a bright start to the season while Jos Butler too has failed in the last couple of innings.

The biggest positive for Rajasthan will be the return to form of former Australian captain Steve Smith. Smith scored 38 against RCB before anchoring his team to 139 with an unbeaten 73 against KKR.

Skipper Ajinkya Rahane, Rahul Tripathi and Ben Stokes too have been below par with the bat. To add to their woes, Rajasthan don't have the depth and bench strength to overcome the tough situation.

Rajasthan's bowling too appears to be lacking in ideas and the likes of Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jaidev Unadkat, and Dhawal Kulkarni will have to pull up their socks against an in-form CSK.

However, captain Rahane feels there is no need to hit the panic button yet.

"I think there's no need for us to panic yet. Out of the five matches that we played, we lost badly in just one game. We played well in our last four matches, out of which we could have won three. It's not too late for us," he had said after the loss against KKR.

CSK, on the other hand, will be brimming with confidence having defeated the Royals earlier in the season, when Dhoni smashed an unbeaten 75 to clinch an eight-run victory.

Their batting looks solid with Shane Watson and Fau Du Plessis at the top while the middle-order consists of Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jhadav and Dhoni.

CSK's bowing unit, which has an impressive mix of pace and spin, will look to exploit the Sawai Man Singh wicket, which has been playing slow and low.

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Struggling Royals host Super Kings


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