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After three straight defeats for Rajasthan Royals, the team still have a solid chance to make the playoffs, but winning all three of their remaining games is a must. Maybe that helps, as the team plays with freedom, with nothing to lose. The first of those three ‘quarter finals’ come against Chennai Super Kings on Saturday, in Abu Dhabi.

Previous Meeting:

Our previous meeting with CSK was a forgettable one back in April, with MS Dhoni’s team registering a 45-run victory at the Wankhede. Despite the 188/9 that CSK had put on board, our pacers came through with six wickets as Chetan Sakariya produced 3/36. Jos Buttler gave us a good start, but we faltered after he was dismissed on 49, with their spinners restricting us to 143/9 to win the game convincingly.

Key Stats

Overall H2H Record: Played - 24, RR - 9, CSK - 15

Form Guide against CSK: LWWLL

Overall Form Guide: LLLWW

Sanju Samson, with 452 runs in 11 matches so far, is 37 runs behind KL Rahul in the race to the Orange Cap. After getting out for 19 in the last game, Sanju will want to come back and score big in a must-win game.

Chris Morris, with 14 wickets in 10 matches this season, is the highest wicket-taker for RR in IPL 2021, while Mustafizur Rahman has scalped 13 wickets in all 11 matches. The key difference has been that Morris hasn’t picked a wicket in the UAE yet, while Fizz has lifted his game in the UAE. Since the start of the 2nd phase, Mustafizur is going at an economoy of 6.8, as compared to 8.3 in the India leg of the season.

Overseas Combination

In our last game against RCB, we played Evin Lewis, Liam Livingstone, Chris Morris, and Mustafizur Rahman as our four overseas players in Dubai. This has largely been our go-to combination in the UAE, when everyone has been fit. However, with three straight losses, this could be the game we see some changes.

Liam hasn’t fired yet this season so it will be interesting to see whether we give him another go or look to switch to Miller or Phillips, or maybe even another overseas bowler. Morris too hasn’t been as impressive as he was in India earlier in the year – which is a talking point in terms of whether someone replaces him in the side. The likes of Shamsi and Oshane Thomas will be keen to get a go as well – lots of decisions to be made before the game!

Players to watch

Evin Lewis, who has the highest Powerplay strike rate in the second leg this season, has a brilliant record against Deepak Chahar with a strike rate of over 175 in six meetings against the Chennai pacer. That clubbed with Yashasvi Jaiswal’s current form will be one power partnership to look forward to.

Other key matchups to look forward to are Chris Morris - Faf du Plessis, with the RR all-rounder having the advantage of bagging the wicket of his former South Africa captain five times in 13 meetings. Meanwhile, Mustafizur has a strikingly brilliant record of dismissing Ravindra Jadeja - whose death-overs form has been a headache for his opponents – getting him four times in five meetings.

The losing streak has made RR slip to 7th - just above Sunrisers Hyderabad, who are out of contention for the playoffs. CSK, who are currently top of the table, will be a huge challenge to overcome, but let’s not forget we beat them twice in the UAE last season, with one of those wins coming in Abu Dhabi when we needed a win to keep our playoffs hopes alive.

Sounds familiar?

What do you think our overseas combination for Saturday’s match against CSK should be? Send in your views on Twitter at @rajasthanroyals or to me @cricketpun_duh