The Sharjah cricket stadium will have its first game of the IPL 2020 when it hosts the Royals against Chennai Super Kings. One of the three venues for this years competition, the venue is iconic in cricketing books and has its own special place in history, having witnessed some intense nail-biting finishes through the course of time. The Sharjah cricket stadium hosted six IPL games back in 2014, including a solitary game for the Royals against Kings XI Punjab.
While teams batting first have usually ruled the roost at the venue, the situation is quite contrasting when it comes to IPL cricket. The teams batting second have ended up on the winning side on four of the six occasions.
The venue promises to produce an entertaining affair, as it has the highest boundary count out of the three being played on.
Early Team news
The team has all its bases covered, with plenty of options to go with depending on the nature of the surface on the day. Our big international contingent who recently returned from the England-Australia series in Manchester, with the exception of Jos Buttler, have completed their respective quarantine periods and are available for selection, boosting the squads morale and providing coach Andrew McDonald with great flexibility ahead of the big opening game.
Jos Buttler will miss the opening game of the IPL as he remains in quarantine, having arrived separately with his family. Ben Stokes, who is currently in New Zealand with his family, will also remain unavailable for the first game of the Dream11 IPL.
The Super Kings from Chennai turned up in style on the opening night with an impressive win against the defending champions, Mumbai Indians. The game saw the Super Kings start slow and were off the pace in both the innings. However, they were able to turn it around both times and emerge victorious. Our defeats last season were tough to take and the boys are motivated to get over the line this time, making up for the previous heartbreaks against last seasons runners-up. CSK are likely to remain without all-rounder Dwayne Bravo for the game but will have the rest of their squad available for the showdown.
The big talking point
The first game of the season is always an exciting occasion, often because it presents an opportunity to watch our stars and some of the new signings in action. The Royals have a balance of youth and experience, with a huge amount of raw talent. Steve Smiths availability means he will, for the first time ever captain Rajasthan Royals, right from the start of a season. Smudge, along with the rest of the squad will look to begin this years IPL with a win and get those vital two points on board. With a good pre-season behind the Indian boys and some intense international cricket behind the recent arrivals, the fans can expect a big push from the boys in this first game and anticipate a high-energy clash in Sharjah.
Word from the camp
Steve Smith (Captain)
“Yeah obviously missed the last three one-dayers in England. Been in Dubai for a couple of days now with some good rest and then got into a bit of running. Yesterday I did a bit of zig-zag running, which is part of the protocols to pass to get back to play and today Ill have a hit in the nets. Hopefully, pull up well from the hit and be good to play tomorrow.”
“The guys have been here for a month now and from all reports, the trainings been magnificent. Its been good to catch up with both the old and the new Royals, were in a good place and have got a really good squad this year, really strong and were ready to get going.
“Chennai and Mumbai both have been two really strong teams for a long time now. We obviously watched a bit of the game the other night, the Super Kings played really well to get over the line in the end. Hopefully, we can put on a really good show and get our campaign off to a good start.”
Andrew McDonald (Head Coach)
“Fantastic news that Steve is available. Its fantastic especially on the back of some setbacks back in the UK. Its obviously great to have your skipper available for the first game as Ive said before we are in really good hands. In terms of the rest of the squad, we couldnt be happier with their preparation. Weve got what we needed, having been here nice and early to get our preparation going on the back of the long lay-off.”
“We have got the bases covered and have some really good depth in the squad and really looking forward to seeing what it looks like in a real competitive match against CSK. They had a fantastic first game, theyre one game into the tournament which is a slight advantage when you come out against the team thats already played and performed. So, well definitely have our work cut out and really looking forward to what our guys can bring to the table and were really excited about what the journey presents.
“Weve trained at Sharjah a couple of times. Most of our players have got a really good feel for the surface. Weve had some net practice in the middle which is always a positive rather than just nets out at the back. The guys have been able to feel what its like batting at the centre and have had plenty of fielding down there, so they are quite familiar with the stadium. Clearly a different surface to Dubai or Abu Dhabi in terms of runs and the size of the venue so itll create some difficult challenges there for the bowling unit so no question there being a high-scoring ground. But we feel the team will put out their best show to be able to combat what CSK will throw at us.”
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