Abu Dhabi: Sailing in the same boat, Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals lock horns in the Indian Premier League here on Monday with the knowledge that any more slip-up could dash their slim play-off hopes.
Both CSK and RR have failed to live up to the expectations so far and are placed sixth and seventh on the points table in the eight-team competition. The two struggling teams have six points from nine games, but the defending champions are placed above on the net run rate.
With just five matches each remaining for both the teams, the road ahead is definitely going to be a tough and tricky one, and they know that they cannot afford any more lapses from hereon.
Both teams lost their respective last matches on Saturday. While the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side lost to table toppers Delhi Capitals by five wickets, Rajasthan Royals were defeated by seven wickets by Royal Challengers Bangalore.
The blow for CSK is bigger as their influential all-rounder, Dwayne Bravo, has been ruled out for at least a few days due to a groin injury. After bringing life to their campaign with a win over Sunrisers Hyderabad, courtesy Dhoni’s smart captaincy, CSK were done in by sloppy fielding and Shikhar Dhawan’s scintillating 101-run knock while chasing a competitive 180-run target.
Dropped a number of times, Dhawan hit his maiden IPL hundred while Axar Patel smashed three sixes in the final over bowled by Ravindra Jadeja, to hand CSK their sixth loss. It was a nightmarish outing for CSK fielders as they dropped Dhawan on 25 and 79, apart from failing to latch on to a half chance and a run-out opportunity, and Dhoni would certainly seek improvement in that department.
“Shikhar’s wicket was important but we dropped him quite a number of times. If he keeps batting, he will keep the strike rate high. Also the wicket played better in the second half, but we can’t take the credit away from Shikhar,” Dhoni had said after the last game.
RR also find themselves in a very difficult situation and desperately need to explore ways to close down games. One good thing for RR is the return to form of their skipper Steve Smith, who made 57 on Saturday, but star all-rounder Ben Stokes is yet to fire after having joined the team late.
Jos Buttler has not been consistent enough with the bat. Sanju Samson has been subdued after his early exploits while Robin Uthappa seems to have found some form at the top, scoring 41 off 22 balls against RCB. The Jofra Archer-led bowling attack looked ordinary in front of the marauding RCB batsmen.