Chennai Super Kings vs Rajasthan Royals, Sharjah

Pro Tip

Back both top orders to do bulk of the scoring as Sharjah is expected to be the best surface to bat on in the tournament.

Our XI: Sanju Samson, Ambati Rayudu, Steve Smith, Riyan Parag, Shane Watson, Faf Du Plessis, Sam Curran, Jaydev Unadkat, Jofra Archer, Lungi Ngidi, Piyush Chawla

Substitutes: Shreyas Gopal, Ravindra Jadeja, Robin Uthappa, Deepak Chahar

Player availability:

  • Jos Buttler, the Royals wicket-keeper batsman is unavailable

  • CSK coach Stephen Fleming confirmed Dwayne Bravo will miss this game too as he hasn't regained full fitness

  • Ruturaj Gaikwad has returned to training

NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates, so please finalise your team after the toss.

Captain: Shane Watson

We are backing Watson to fire on what could possibly be the best batting pitch in the tournament. He has good numbers against the Royals too - an average of 39.50 and a strike rate of 150.47. Watson will take some confidence from the fact that his first century for the Super Kings came against his former IPL side in the 2018 edition.

Vice-captain: Sanju Samson

The Royals wicketkeeper-batsman was the second highest run-getter last year with 342 runs at an impressive strike rate of 148.69. In Buttler's absence, he will have to provide a solid platform at the top. Samson has a strike rate of 133.33 in the powerplay and 131.01 in the middle overs, suggesting he can score at a healthy rate at any point in the innings.

Hot Picks

Ambati Rayudu: Rayudu announced himself in this IPL with a match-winning 71 in the tournament opener against the Mumbai Indians. He appeared to be in supreme touch and will be looking forward to make the most out of his good form.

Jofra Archer: Archer is undoubtedly the leader of the pace attack for Royals. He is someone who can take the new ball as well as bowl at the death. The pacer must have his tail up after some fiery spells against Australia in the recently concluded ODI series. Since 2018, he has bowled at an economy of 6.19 in the powerplay - the second best in the IPL.

Sam Curran: Curran made a huge impact in his very first game for the Super Kings, both with the ball as well as bat. His all-round skills make him handy, and against a team that could possibly play two legspinners, Curran should be useful.

Differential Picks

Riyan Parag: Parag played some crucial knocks for the Royals last season. The youngster scored 160 runs at a strike rate of 126.98, including a half-century against the Delhi Capitals. He also bowls a bit of mystery spin. Parag will have a big role to play while batting in the lower middle order for the Royals.

Jaydev Unadkat: Unadkat has always been a sought-after T20 bowler. He's also coming off a fantastic domestic season, having picked up 12 wickets in seven games in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy at an economy rate of 5.74. Unadkat will take that confidence into the IPL and we are backing him to do that this season, given the nature of the wickets.

Points to note

  • The average first innings score in all T20s at the venue since 2018 is 161

  • Shreyas Gopal is an option to replace Jaydev Unadkat, but Gopal has gone wicketless in his last two games against the Super Kings