Rajasthan Royals v Chennai Super Kings: Faf to help CSK build on opening win

Faf Du Plessis
Matt Harris is backing Faf Du Plessis to deliver with the bat for CSK

Matt Harris believes that CSK's momentum, together with a weakened Royals side, will see the points head to Chennai...

"With Dwayne Bravo sidelined, Curran is a key performer with bat and ball once again but Chennai have depth in their batting to cover for Raina."

Rajasthan Royals v Chennai Super Kings
Tuesday, 15:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket

Royals need more from local stars

The Royals take their IPL 2020 bow after a poor campaign in 2019 saw the side finish down in seventh place. Rajasthan can include some of the strongest overseas picks in the tournament but will clearly need greater support from their domestic contingent if they are to improve on last year's return.

Robin Uthappa's switch from Kolkata Knight Riders should provide more solidity at the top but the Royals will need more consistent performances from the likes of Sanju Samson and Jaydev Unadkat if they are to squeeze into the playoffs. The arrival of Tom Curran swells the English contingent of overseas players but Rajasthan are set to be without Jos Buttler and, potentially, Ben Stokes ahead of their opening match.

Encouraging start from Super Kings

Last year's runners up CSK play their second game of the campaign following Saturday's curtain raiser against defending champions Mumbai. There are concerns over the absence of Suresh Raina - one of only two men to score over 5,000 IPL runs ahead of this tournament - and we'll need to see more from Ambati Rayudu and Kedar Jadhav as the competition progresses.

Rayudu took some early responsibility with a match winning 71 against Mumbai while Sam Curran showed true all-rounder qualities in the run chase. With Dwayne Bravo sidelined, Curran is a key performer with bat and ball once again but Chennai have depth in their batting to cover for Raina.

Looks like a bat-first venue

The Sharjah Cricket Stadium hosts its first game of the tournament and the venue has hosted 13 T20 internationals prior to the 2020 IPL. Statistics show that nine of those games have been won by the side batting first and, with an average first innings score of 149, it may not be the most run-heavy ground in this tournament.

We'll know more as this competition progresses, especially as many of those batting stats involve lesser national sides such as Scotland, Zimbabwe and the Netherlands. The numbers would, however, suggest that teams will want to bat first and bat big.

Chennai rightly favourites

Chennai Super Kings are favourites to take the win and you can pick up MS Dhoni's men at 4/51.78 while Rajasthan Royals are out at 6/52.2. The Royals have made some interesting moves ahead of the tournament and with David Miller, Tom Curran and Oshane Thomas joining Buttler, Stokes, Steve Smith and Jofra Archer, they have one of the most exciting overseas contingents in the tournament.

Unfortunately, they can only field four of those players at any time and it's the lack of support from the domestic picks that has cost Rajasthan. On Tuesday, it's the likely absence of Buttler and Stokes that will hurt Smith's team. With a largely settled and consistent XI, CSK should be taking the points here.

Faf the choice for Top Batsman

Suresh Raina's absence takes away one of the more consistent options in the top batsman market and it should, in theory, make this pick a little more straightforward. Faf Du Plessis starts as favourite at 3/14.0 while Shane Watson is next up at 7/24.4.

Following Saturday's win over Mumbai, there will be definite interest in Rayudu at 7/24.5 while MS Dhoni is a tempter at 6/17.0. Also of interest is Murali Vijay who would have stayed longer at the crease had he chosen to take Du Plessis' advice and review his LBW decision. Vijay is quoted at odds of 4/15.0 in this market and that's another value option.

My first reaction was to take the consistent Du Plessis whose partnership with Rayudu proved to be the turning point on Saturday. I'd hoped that the South African wouldn't be favourite but it's never wise to change your first selection.

Royals can win the Sixes battle

Having picked two favourites up to this point, I'm looking for an outsider and there could be excellent value in the most sixes market. Rajasthan are way out at 9/52.8 and, even without Buttler and Stokes, there should be enough power hitting to convert.

Chennai are in at 4/51.81 with the tie available at 5/16.0 but we're looking to the likes of Samson, Miller and Riyan Pirag to clear the ropes with greater frequency.

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