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CSK seek to recreate stronghold at new home



Big Picture

Much has changed since Chennai Super Kings last played Rajasthan Royals in 2015. Shane Watson has switched camps. Suresh Raina has missed an IPL game in yellow jersey. Ajinkya Rahane hasn’t conformed to the hold-my-end-up-and-let-the-rest-hit-around-me norm. And the MA Chidambaram Stadium will not host CSK’s home matches this season.

It’s the last two of those that have the most bearing presently. This new-found aggression of Rahane has been abrupt. T20 logic dictates that your most effective batsmen get the maximum opportunities to score. With a smart strike-rate of 109, Rahane didn’t fit that bill. But with 72 runs off the last 39 balls he has faced, Rahane has understood the need of the hour better. It is a significant shift in strategy, which could have a ripple effect on the rest of the batting line-up.

This isn’t the first time that CSK have had to move to a new home – MS Dhoni’s hometown of Ranchi hosted them in 2014 and 2015. But with 34 wins in 48 IPL matches, the MA Chidambaram Stadium has for long been a stronghold, and how they adapt to a forced change of venue will be key to the remainder of their season. With a run rate of 13.22 in the last five overs so far, CSK have redefined death-overs batting, with each of their innings being characterised by manic late surges. But it is their bowling – they have conceded an average total of 188 so far – and fielding that will worry them the most.

In the news

  • MS Dhoni batted through a back injury in their previous match against Kings XI Punjab, but he trained with the team on the eve of the game against Royals. Raina, who had missed CSK’s previous match because of a calf injury, also resumed training and could return to the team on Friday.

  • David Willey, who was Kedar Jadhav’s replacement player for CSK, was seen bowling extensively in the nets on match eve. Does that mean an IPL debut for the England allrounder?

  • Ben Laughlin has fared poorly, going at 10.39 an over. Royals have a potential replacement in Jofra Archer, although it isn’t clear yet if he has recovered from the side strain that kept him out of much of the Pakistan Super League and the start of the Indian Premier League.

The likely XIs

Chennai Super Kings: 1 Shane Watson, 2 Ambati Rayudu, 3 M Vijay/Suresh Raina, 4 Sam Billings (wk), 5 MS Dhoni/Dhruv Shorey, 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 Deepak Chahar, 9 Harbhajan Singh, 10 Shardul Thakur, 11 Imran Tahir

Rajasthan Royals: 1 Ajinkya Rahane (capt), 2 D’Arcy Short/Heinrich Klassen, 3 Sanju Samson, 4 Rahul Tripathi, 5 Ben Stokes, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 K Gowtham, 8 Shreyas Gopal, 9 Dhawal Kulkarni, 10 Jaydev Unadkat, 11 Ben Laughlin/Joffra Archer

Strategy punt

  • While opening with spin has become a common theme this season, CSK will want to have enough overs of spin left when Ben Stokes arrives. In four innings this season, Stokes has fallen twice to spin, and has managed only 22 runs off the 25 balls from spinners.

  • Royals have steered away from using their spinners in the slog overs so far, but they may be forced to change that. Laughlin and Jaydev Unadkat, their two strike bowlers, have fared poorly in this phase. While Laughlin has conceded 46 runs off 3.5 overs and doesn’t have a single wicket, Unadkat has fared worse, going at 16.5 an over while also being wicketless.

Stats that matter

  • Both teams have had an equal level of success and failure in Pune. While CSK have won one and lost one, Rajasthan Royals have won and lost two games each.

  • While CSK have an overall record of 11 wins and six defeats against Royals, the last five matches between these two teams have been more closely fought, with CSK winning three and Royals winning two.

  • Ben Laughlin has dismissed Dwayne Bravo on each of the three occasions he has bowled to the batsman in T20s. Off the nine balls he has faced from Laughlin, Bravo has seven runs.

  • Sanju Samson needs 66 more runs to become the fifth batsman to score 1000 runs for Royals in the IPL.

  • Imran Tahir has an excellent record in Pune, averaging two wickets per match, with an average of 15.1 and economy rate of 7.8.

  • Both Sanju Samson and Ben Stokes’ only T20 centuries have come in Pune.

Fantasy picks

  • Big hitter, electric fielder, and a bowler who can give you four overs: Ben Stokes is an excellent T20 package. Even if he does fare badly in one of those areas, there are plenty of other ways he can help you recover those points.

  • Sanju Samson has a good record at Pune, where he scored his only T20 century. That, coupled with his current form – he has scores of 49, 37 and 92* in four innings – should make him a tempting pick.


“It looks a good pitch to me. Nice covering of grass, more grass than probably what we are used to seeing on an Indian pitch.”
Michael Hussey, Chennai Super Kings’ batting coach

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Australia v New Zealand, 2nd T20I



Alyssa Healy was caught unaware when TV commentator Mel Jones started asking her about MS Dhoni towards the end of New Zealand’s innings in the second T20I.

Her alert catch to remove Lauren Down was her 92nd T20I wicketkeeping dismissal, making her the most prolific keeper in the format. Fittingly, too, she had equalled Dhoni’s tally with another brilliant piece of glovework to stump Amy Satterthwaite; the decision, which took nearly five minutes to make, can be debated but as with the leg-side stumping to remove Sophie Devine the day before it was a wonderful piece of wicketkeeping.

Not one to dwell over individual statistics, Healy said it was a “very nice accolade” but shifted the praise towards her bowlers. She even conceded she did not believe she had a great day with the gloves with a stumping chance going down against Katie Perkins and a few byes slipping through.

“I had no idea about it, I wondered why Mel Jones was asking me about MS Dhoni, I thought it was a very strange discussion we were about to have,” she said. “It’s obviously a very nice individual accolade but it reflects better on our bowling attack than myself.

“It just shows the strength of our bowling attack we’ve had throughout my career that they are giving these opportunities. Makes me think about all the ones I’ve missed but at the same it is nice, but it’s more credit to the bowlers.

“There’s a lot of stuff you do as a wicketkeeper, so for me I’m always really content when I come off the field and I’ve had a good day behind the stumps. Didn’t feel like I had a great day today so it’s sort of a weird feeling. I love wicketkeeping, have done it my whole life – much as I wanted to be a bowler I love my keeping – so if I come off the ground and I’ve done my job for the bowlers and team, more often than not I’m pretty happy.”

The stumping to remove Satterthwaite was also her 50th in T20Is and she has more than catches which is a testament to her alertness up to the stumps where she will spend most of an innings. While the borderline decisions have gone Australia’s way in the first two matches of this series, all Healy can do is be ready for a batter’s error and force a decision from the umpires.

“Being a wicketkeeper you’ve sometimes got to create opportunities for your side,” she said. “It’s not something I pride myself on or anything like, it’s just how I can swing the momentum back in our favour, whether that’s driving our fielding standards or taking a half chance that could change the game.”

On the Satterthwaite dismissal specifically, Healy said: “From my point of view I could see a lot of the line so that’s probably why I seemed a bit more confident than not. I thought it was out, but I haven’t seen a replay and it taking so long it must have been incredibly tight. It’s not every day you get the benefit of the doubt going to the fielding side so I’ve got two in a row now, so hopefully it continues.”

“It was a big play, we wanted the wicket, but either way being so tight one side would have been unhappy. If it had been not out, I think people would have been happy with that as well.”

Healy, who would have been a worthy Player of the Match, then contributed a blistering 33 off 17 balls which virtually sealed the match inside Australia’s Powerplay and secured them a tenth T20 prize in a row dating back to 2018 which has included two World Cups along the way.

“There’s probably a little bit of rust floating around with my bat in hand but in saying that when we are chasing down totals like it’s my job to take it to the opposition, see if I can get that run rate down as low as possible for our middle order to get the job done,” Healy said. “Pleasing it came off today and puts me in good stead for the one-day format.”

The final T20I takes place on Wednesday before the three-match ODI series begins on October 3.

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Recent Match Report – New Zealand Women vs Australia Women 2nd T20I 2020



Australia 2 for 129 (Haynes 40*, Healy 33) beat New Zealand 128 (Satterthwaite 30, Kimmince 3-21, Wareham 3-26) by 8 wickets

A combined 0 for 43 for Jess Jonassen and Megan Schutt, while Ellyse Perry continued her rehabilitation at the boundary’s edge, merely allowed Australia to showcase their formidable bowling depth as New Zealand were outclassed for the second time in as many days to surrender the T20I series at Allan Border Field.

Delissa Kimmince, Georgia Wareham and Sophie Molineux all shone in exploiting the vagaries of a slow and at times sharply spinning surface in Brisbane to round up the visitors for 128, before Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney added a rapid 51 to leave a comfortable equation for Rachael Haynes and Meg Lanning to complete.

New Zealand were again on the wrong end of a couple of marginal decisions, Amy Satterthwaite given out stumped by a millimetre when she was just getting into a position to hurt Australia, but overall the gulf between the sides was enormous. Australia have now won 10 bilateral T20I series in succession against all comers, and will be particularly gratified to have closed this one out without major contributions from their three most seasoned bowlers.

Spinning into early trouble

A used surface and the prospect of assistance for slow bowlers had Sophie Devine showing little hesitation in batting first upon winning the toss. Lanning responded in kind by giving Jonassen the first over, from which she conceded a frugal five. But after Schutt went for 11 in the second, Lanning adjusted by loading up on spin and bringing Molineux, Ash Garnder and then Wareham all into the attack.

Molineux dropped on the ideal length quickly enough to coax a return catch from Devine with her very first ball, and with her sixth she turned one a vast distance to beat Maddie Green. It was the sort of over to swing momentum, and in the next over Green was run out trying to force a second run – replays showing she had failed to ground her bat over the line in a desperate dive for safety. So from a promising first couple of overs, New Zealand were already starting to flounder.

Line calls to Australia again

For the second time in as many days, the Australians were given a good deal of assistance by the close calls going their way. First, Satterthwaite was given out stumped off the bowling of Wareham, just as she appeared to be in a position to accelerate. There were millimetres in the question of whether or not Satterthwaite had grounded her foot back over the crease line, and a deliberation time of nearly five minutes for third umpire Donavan Koch suggested more than enough doubt to rule in New Zealand’s favour. Nevertheless, the red light eventually flashed.

Later, as Wareham and Molineux had spun their web further, Lauren Down trying to swing a ball away to leg and being given out after a jumble of ball, pads and possibly bat or glove. Neither Wareham nor Healy – who appeared more interested in the stumping – appealed with any conviction, but the finger was once again raised. In all, spin combined for figures of 5 for 74 from 13 overs, backed up nicely by the seam variations of Kimmince and Nicola Carey.

Powerplayers set the pace

At best, New Zealand needed a repeat of their tidy early overs in game one if they were to pressure the Australians into a scenario from where the visitors could win. Instead, Healy and Mooney recognised the chance to take the initiative and were into stride almost before Devine or her bowlers could do much at all about it. Mooney, out cheaply on Saturday, found a couple of sweetly timed drives against the new ball, before Healy launched herself at Suzie Bates to crunch 22 from a single over.

ALSO SEE: Australia women v New Zealand women live score 27 September 2020

These blows meant that the hosts were able to march past 50 in the space of 4.1 overs, meaning that whatever happened next, the run rate was never likely to be an issue. So when Healy and Mooney both fell relatively soon after the milestone was passed, the seasoned pair of Lanning and Haynes had plenty of time to get themselves set before relaunching.

Haynes, Lanning mop up operation

Sixty-five were required from 75 balls when Haynes joined Lanning, meaning that a calm union would likely be more than enough. Australia’s Nos. 3 and 4 were duly able to absorb some tight bowling before gradually accelerating, doing so in a manner that allowed the target to be reeled in with an ample 20 balls to spare.

In two days, each member of the Australian top five has contributed at least one score of note, making for a truly daunting combination against New Zealand or indeed any opponent. All this with Perry watching from the sidelines – there appears absolutely no need to rush her back from the hamstring injury that had compelled Australia to so memorably win the T20 World Cup without her earlier this year.

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Rajasthan Royals vs Kings XI Punjab, IPL 2020, Fantasy Pick, team predictions



Rajasthan Royals vs Kings XI Punjab, Sharjah

Pro Tip
Pack your team with batsmen from both teams and expect yet another high scoring game at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Our XI: Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson, KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Tom Curran, Jofra Archer, Mohammed Shami, Ravi Bishnoi

Substitutes: Sheldon Cottrell, Rahul Tewatia, Nicholas Pooran, Jaydev Unadkat

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.

Player availability: All players are available including Jos Buttler who missed the last game.

Captain: Jos Buttler
Buttler has had a week off after the ODI series against Australia and would be eager to resume playing his preferred format. In his last three T20I innings, Buttler scored 178 runs at a strike rate of 158.92. His performance against the Kings XI have been impressive since 2018: 225 runs in four innings at a strike rate of 143.41.

Vice-captain: KL Rahul
Rahul has continued his purple patch even after a six-month break. His 132 not out against the Royal Challengers is the highest individual score for an Indian in the IPL. With his ability to clear long boundaries, he is likely to make the most of the Sharjah ground dimensions.

Hot Picks
Glenn Maxwell
Though Maxwell has had a couple of failures in as many games this season, he could find form against the Kings XI. Rahul tossed him the ball against the Royal Challengers and the Australian returned a wicket. In the ODI series against England, he struck a fifty and a hundred against a Jofra Archer-led attack.

Chris Gayle
This could be the right time for the Kings XI to unleash Gayle: a small ground, a batting-friendly surface and a couple of legspinners in the opposition XI – all could favour Gayle’s style of batting. Gayle has a strike rate of 197.14 against legspinners, the highest among all batsmen who’ve faced 100 or more balls from legspinners in T20s since 2018.

Mohammed Shami
Shami has been bowling with great rhythm and pace. He’s looked peerless in the pace-bowling department across teams so far this season. He has picked up four wickets at an economy of 4.14. Even in a small ground without much help for the pacers, Shami is a key pick. Since 2018, Shami has had an economy of 6.80 in the powerplay, the best among all seamers who have picked up five or more wickets in the phase.

Differential Picks
Ravi Bishnoi
The young leggie has been given the ball in tough situations and has still come on top. He has picked up 4 wickets at an economy of 6.75. The small ground and big hitters in the Royals line-up will be another challenge for Bishnoi but we expect him to ace it yet again. Tom Curran: After a forgettable outing the Super Kings, many may not pick Curran. But a bowler with as many variations as Curran is very handy on this ground. Even though he has an economy of 9.99 in the death since 2018 in all T20s, he also has a SR of 9.9 suggesting he will get you a wicket or two more often than not.

Alternate Scenarios

  • Wait until the toss to see if Buttler keeps wickets. If Sanju Samson does, make Buttler your vice-captain and Rahul your captain to maximise on points as Rahul will surely keep wickets for the Kings XI.

  • Chris Gayle should be brought into the XI given the ground dimensions and the two legspinners in the Royals’ line-up. Since 2017 in all T20s, Gayle has struck at 182.93 against leg spin.

  • If Gayle does not play, pick one of the the Royals legspinners ahead of Tom Curran since there’s expected to be only one left-handed batsman in the top six for the Kings XI

  • Royals’ line-up is filled with right-handed batsmen, so playing both the Kings XI legspinners could also be an option instead of one of their batsmen.

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