Two of the most successful franchises in the Indian Premier League – Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) – will be contesting against each other for the top spot. Both the teams have had a similar fate so far in the 12th edition. With four out of five wins, KKR is at number one while CSK is second placed owing to an inferior net run-rate.
The Chennai team has a lot of senior players in their squad. Having said that, the experience they bring reflects in the results. The Yellow Army has been undefeated at the MA Chidambaram stadium this season with three wins from as many games. Overall, they have 15 wins from 16 outings at their fortress.
While MS Dhoni and his team members are well-versed with the conditions, opposition skipper Dinesh Karthik would want to use his home ground knowledge as an advantage when he addresses the team. Here’s a look at both the teams and their campaign so far.
Kolkata Knight Riders
In their previous encounter against Rajasthan Royals (RR), the team showcased a clinical performance as they outplayed RR in all departments. The biggest positive for KKR was their openers striking form as Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine added 91 runs for the first wicket.
If Rajasthan’s pitch assisted the spinners, Chennai’s turf will be totally dominated by the slower bowlers. It is imperative for the two-time champions to get off to a decent start and a lot would depend on Narine for the same. Lynn’s struggle against the spinners is universally known and given that Narine is a left-handed batsman, off-spinner Harbhajan will surely be asked to bowl in the power-play.
Nitish Rana and Robin Uthappa, who are good players of spin, will play a crucial role in the upcoming game. Their ability to rotate the strike and clear the boundary with ease will come handy in the middle overs.
Skipper Dinesh Karthik didn’t look comfortable at the crease when he came to bat against RCB. Playing at home, Karthik would like to make useful contributions with the bat lower down the order.
The last time these two teams met at Chennai, Andre Russell scored 88 runs from 36 with 11 sixes. The Jamaican’s form has been surreal as he has seen his team through unrealistic situations. Russell’s presence in the team is a huge advantage as the team would want him to continue the momentum.
Shubman Gill’s only half-century in the IPL came against CSK when he was promoted up the order last season. Gill scored 57* from 36 and saw his team through. A batsman to look out for the future, Gill has impressed everyone with his technical game-play.
(Shubman Gill has shown maturity while supporting Andre Russell in previous matches. Image: FB/KKR)
The inclusion of Harry Gurney in the team was a master-stroke by the management. The Englishman’s slower-balls were very effective against RR as he finished 2/25 from four overs on debut. The pitch will assist the left-arm seamer and his change of pace will definitely trouble the batsmen from CSK.
The spin trio of KKR is yet to deliver their best. Narine, Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav have bowled well in fragments. They might have contained the opposition to some extent, but haven’t been able to cause extensive damage as they did last season. The trio would like more wickets under their belt when they bowl on spinner-friendly pitches.
Chennai Super Kings
While CSK would miss the services of Windies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo for the next two weeks as he has been ruled out due to injury, the team’s bench strength provides several replacement options.
In their last match against Kings XI Punjab, CSK brought in Faf du Plessis and New Zealand pacer Scott Kuggeleijn, who made his IPL debut. The South African opener started the campaign with a half-century and never for once, it seemed that he was playing his first game of the season.
Despite the fact that the three-time champions haven’t clicked as a unit yet, the team has managed four wins out of five matches so far. As always, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s leadership has been exemplary. The former India captain has marshalled his troop well, bailing the team out in difficult situations.
Openers Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu, who had a formidable season last year, haven’t had the best of starts this year. While Rayudu has been given a different role to strengthen the middle-order, Watson would like to get some runs under his belt. The Australian has 88 runs from five innings so far.
(Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis got CSK off to a great start against KXIP. Image: FB/CSK)
CSK’s batting mainstay Suresh Raina has also struggled with the bat. While the left-handed batsman can change the complexion of the game on any day, CSK fans would be hoping that today would be Raina’s day.
With just a week left before India’s World Cup squad is announced, Kedar Jadhav and Ambati Rayudu would be keen to put in good performances and solidify their positions in the national team.
Dhoni has been in terrific form with the bat so far. He is CSK’s highest run scorer with 156 runs in four innings. He has been dismissed only once and it was that very game that Chennai ended up losing.
Apart from a strong batting core, CSK’s strength is their spin bowling. With Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir and Ravindra Jadeja in the side, Dhoni has wicket-taking bowlers who can be used in the power-play as well as at the death.
Raina and Jadhav’s ability to roll the arm over gives Mahi more options on a spinner friendly turf. Bhajji has two ‘Player of the Match’ awards in the three games that he has played so far.
Head to Head: 21 (Includes two Champions League T20 matches)
CSK: 12 KKR: 8 No Result: 1
KKR: Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (C and wk), Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, and Harry Gurney.
CSK: Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (c and wk), Kedar Jadhav, Harbhajan Singh, Shardul Thakur, Imran Tahir, Deepak Chahar and Scott Kuggeleijn.
(Featured Image: FB/KKR)
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Wasn’t and still isn’t certain about anything except that cricket is his first love. If he is not talking or writing about sports then he must be travelling. These two things help in restoring sanity in this insane world.