CSK, Rajasthan Royals in pitched battle

The Asian Age.  | SANTHOSH KUMAR

Sports, Cricket

On match eve, CSK coach Stephen Fleming conceded that he has no idea how the wicket would behave this time.

CSK spinners Ravindra Jadeja, Karn Sharma and Harbhajan Singh during a training session on Saturday. (Photo: EK Sanjay)

Chennai: The Chepauk strip, which drew a lot of flak after a drearily dull IPL opener, will be in the centre of attention when Chennai Super Kings take on Rajasthan Royals here at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday.

Such was the nature of the wicket that even the home team skipper M.S. Dhoni wasn’t pleased with it despite having bowled Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers out for 70 in their opener.

On match eve, CSK coach Stephen Fleming conceded that he has no idea how the wicket would behave this time. “We have watched the preparation, which has been extensive over the last three days that we have been here. There has also been a lot of work on it while we have been away. All we can ask is that they give as much as they can to the preparation. It certainly wasn’t up to scratch in the first game,” he said.

Fleming dismissed the notion that the slow track was rolled out to favour the spin-heavy Super Kings. “Contrary to belief, it wasn’t by design from us. We have looked at the surface. It looks a lot better. It looks a lot harder and compact, but we have to be flexible as soon as the first ball is bowled with how it behaves and play accordingly,” he added.

Super Kings are high on confidence after winning back-to-back games. On the other hand, Royals are yet to get off the mark. Sanju Samson’s brilliant hundred went in vain against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Friday and Royals would be desperate to put the heartbreak behind them.

CSK’s depleting fast-bowling department suffered another blow when England all-rounder David Willey pulled out of the IPL. Since Willey cited personal reasons, CSK can’t look for a replacement. However, Fleming said New Zealand all-rounder Scott Kuggeleijn will fill the void left by injured South African pacer Lungi Ngidi.

“Kuggeleijn bowls quick and bats well. We have looked for an all-rounder who has good pace and variations. He will be joining us next week,” Fleming added.