The fourth match of the IPL 2020 tournament between the blockbuster teams, Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, could all be about match-ups. We take a look at a key game plan that could play a role in the 4th game of IPL 2020 – RR vs CSK.
RR vs CSK – The Ravindra Jadeja road block for Steven Smith
“Jadeja in the sub-continent… why he is so good is because he hits that good length and one ball skids on and one spins, and it just all looks same out of the hand. I think consistency in length is key and then having at least one variation,” Steven Smith complimented Ravindra Jadeja by calling him the toughest bowler he has faced in the sub-continent in a podcast released by Rajasthan Royals.
It is understandable that Smith has nightmares about Ravindra Jadeja. The Australian has been dismissed by Jadeja 11 times across formats, including six in the shortest format of the game. Smith’s scoring rate against Jadeja is also quite poor and stands at a strike-rate less than 90.
With just 60 runs in 70 balls and six wickets, it is clear that Smith doesn’t quite fare well against Jadeja. For a batsman who takes time to settle down and then score runs, a weakness as glaring as this against one bowler is pretty risky in a game of match-ups.
This is primarily because Smith belongs to a category of players who start slow and then make up after 15-20 deliveries. The issue here is that starting slow in T20s is almost never good unless you can step up the gears significantly.
Smith doesn’t quite have that range in T20 cricket yet. Since 2017, his runs per over in the middle overs – where he is likely to counter Jadeja – in the IPL is the fifth worst in the history of the league. The problem compounds because Rajasthan Royals also have David Miller in their ranks and with no Buttler and Stokes, the South African would likely team up with Smith in the middle overs.
The two have among the worst strike-rates in the middle overs in IPL since 2017 and having them in the middle together could spell doom for Rajasthan.
However, there’s a silver lining. Miller, who could play alongside Smith, has a strike-rate of 178.85 against Jadeja in the IPL, though most of that came in 2014-15 when the South African was in his prime.
Since then, Miller has considerably slowed down and his effectiveness has also been questionable. Robin Uthappa, the other option in the middle overs, has also been dismissed by Jadeja thrice while scoring at a less-than-ideal 112.28 in T20s.
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With no Buttler and Stokes, it is imperative for Rajasthan that Smith fires, but he has a major roadblock awaiting him in the form of Jadeja. This match-up could well decide the contest between Rajasthan and Chennai.