68th Match (N), Brabourne, May 20, 2022, Indian Premier League
(19.4/20 ov, T:151) 151/5

Royals won by 5 wickets (with 2 balls remaining)


Eliminated CSK stand in way of Royals and top-two finish

Could this also be the last time we see MS Dhoni in a Super Kings shirt?

Sreshth Shah
Sreshth Shah

Big picture

For Rajasthan Royals, the equation is simple. With one game left, a win over Chennai Super Kings will secure second place and two shots at reaching the IPL final.
If they lose by a small margin, they'll most likely qualify as either third or fourth, but a big loss (together with big victories for Delhi Capitals and, especially, Royal Challengers Bangalore elsewhere) could still see the Royals missing out on a playoff spot, but the probability is low if not impossible.
Big defeats usually happen when there is a batting collapse, and for the Royals, that aspect of their game gets a massive boost with the return of Shimron Hetmyer. Even though he missed two games for the birth of his child, his 19 sixes in the last five overs remain the most among all batters in IPL 2022. Add the return in Yashasvi Jaiswal's form, Devdutt Padikkal successfully batting at No. 4, and the potential of Jos Buttler and Sanju Samson, and the Royals batting gives enough confidence, more so against a struggling Super Kings bowling unit that has not been among the wickets, taking only eight scalps in their last two games.
In Super Kings' previous game, they made four changes that appeared to show that the 2022 campaign was already over for the franchise and that they were looking ahead to IPL 2023. Against an in-form Gujarat Titans, their batting felt flat in their score of 133 for 5, and the bowlers were simply not experienced enough to trouble a batting side that was high on confidence. In the Royals, they're up against a side with the same buzz.
But the young bowling brigade at Super Kings does excite the neutral. There's an opportunity for young Mukesh Choudhary to add to his tally of 11 powerplay wickets, already one more than the ten that Deepak Chahar took in the first six overs last season. Sling-action bowler Matheesha Pathirana has another chance to amaze at the IPL with his unique side-on deliveries with Lasith Malinga watching on from the Royals dug out.
And finally, as broadcasters and journalists keep asking MS Dhoni every year since 2020. Will this be the last time we see the Super Kings legend in yellow as a player? You know the question is going to be asked. To know his answer, tune in to the toss.

Likely XIs

Rajasthan Royals: 1 Yashasvi Jaiswal, 2 Jos Buttler, 3 Sanju Samson (capt, wk), 4 Devdutt Padikkal, 5 Shimron Hetmyer, 6 Riyan Parag, 7 R Ashwin, 8 James Neesham/Obed McCoy, 9 Trent Boult, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Prasidh Krishna
Chennai Super Kings: 1 Devon Conway, 2 Ruturaj Gaikwad, 3 Moeen Ali, 4 N Jagadeesan, 5 Shivam Dube, 6 Mitchell Santner, 7 MS Dhoni (capt, wk), 8 Prashant Solanki, 9 Simarjeet Singh, 10 Mukesh Choudhary, 11 Matheesha Pathirana

Strategy punt

  • Moeen Ali to take the new ball for the Super Kings? Moeen has dismissed Buttler three times in six T20s.
  • Does Samson use Yuzvendra Chahal in the powerplay or at the death? Gaikwad has been dismissed three times in four innings against the purple cap holder in T20s. But Chahal has also impressed in the final five overs. No spinner has bowled as many overs as Chahal in between overs 16-20, and no bowler (pace or spin) has taken more wickets in that period of the game than Chahal's 13.

Stats that matter

  • In the 11 games where Hetmyer has played for Royals, they hit a six every 7.6 balls in the last five overs. In the two games without Hetmyer, Royals have averaged one six every 30 balls between overs 16-20.
  • Chahal (24 wickets) is two away from tying with Imran Tahir's tally of 26 (in 2019) which remains the most wickets by a spinner in a single IPL season.
  • Super Kings have only one batter with 300+ runs this season (Gaikwad), the lowest among any team.

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx

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