MUMBAI: Having gone off the boil in the last few games, Jos Buttler would be eagerly waiting to pounce on an inexperienced Chennai Super Kings attack in order to clinch a play-off berth for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL here on Friday.
A win will take Sanju Samson's men to 18 points and help them steer clear of any permutations or combinations for a top-four finish. In fact a win will ensure a top-two finish for Royals as they will then enjoy a superior Net Run Rate (NRR) of +0.304 compared to Lucknow Super Giants' +0.251.
In this backdrop, Royals would like to turn the heat on a lacklustre CSK, who can turn out to be 'party poopers' in their final game. To prevent that, Buttler, who is currently leading the batters' chart with 627 runs, will need to do better than register scores of 22, 30, 7, 2 -- his contribution in the last four games.
The Royals' success in the tournament has got a lot to do with brilliant starts from Buttler, who has three hundreds and as many fifties -- most of his runs were scored during the first half of the tournament -- and Yuzvendra Chahal's 24 wickets.
While Chahal has maintained his consistency, in the case of Buttler there has been a slight dip in form but the last league game is an ideal time to up the ante before the play-offs.
Rookies Mukesh Choudhary, Simarjeet Singh and 'Baby Malinga' Matheesha Pathirana will like to show their wares one last time but the CSK unit's confidence has taken a big dent because of its poor batting efforts for the better part of the tournament.
While Buttler is at the top of the batting chart for Royals, Ruturaj Gaikwad came to the party late with 366 runs, but none of the others have crossed the 300-run mark. Devon Conway, who played more matches in the second half, has 236 runs to his credit.
Most of CSK's senior players like MS Dhoni (206), Ambati Rayudu (271) and Robin Uthappa (230) haven't had a great IPL and that has been the biggest failure of the 'Yellow Brigade'. The bowling suffered a lot because of the absence of an injured Deepak Chahar and the inability to retain Josh Hazlewood.
It was wafer-thin in terms of experience and they paid the price. Pathirana, with a slinging action that is pretty similar to Malinga, has caught Dhoni's imagination but he is a work in progress. Similarly, the likes of Mukesh (16 wickets), Simar (3 wickets) and spinner Mahesh Theekshana (12) are good but not assured match-winners yet.
The Royals' bowling attack, perhaps, is one of the best in the tournament with the spin duo of Chahal (24 wickets and ER of 7.76) and Ravichandran Ashwin (10 wickets at 7.15) creating plenty of trouble for the batters.
Prasidh Krishna (15 wickets) has been sharp on most days and when Trent Boult (12 wickets) gets the ball to slant into the right-handers first up, it will be difficult for any top-order. The Royals' qualification is in their own hands and they would like to keep it that way with a win against Chennai Super Kings.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (captain), Moeen Ali, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Dwayne Bravo, Ambati Rayadu, Robin Uthappa, Mitchell Santner, Chris Jordan, Adam Milne, Devon Conway, Shivam Dube, Dwaine Pretorius, Maheesh Theekshana, Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Tushar Deshpande, KM Asif, C Hari Nishaanth, N Jagadeesan, Subranshu Senapati, K Bhagath Verma, Prashant Solanki, Simarjeet Singh, Mukesh Choudhary, Matheesha Pathirana.
Rajasthan Royals: Sanju Samson (C), Jos Buttler, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Ravichandran Ashwin, Trent Boult, Shimron Hetmyer, Devdutt Padikkal, Prasidh Krishna, Yuzvendra Chahal, Riyan Parag, KC Cariappa, Navdeep Saini, Obed McCoy, Anunay Singh, Kuldeep Sen, Karun Nair, Dhruv Jurel, Tejas Baroka, Kuldip Yadav, Shubham Garhwal, James Neesham, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Rassie van der Dussen, Daryl Mitchell, Corbin Bosch.
Match Starts at 7:30 pm