There might not be a lot at stake when Punjab (PBKS) take on Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the first game of the day on Thursday (October 7), yet there is still something to play for. While Punjab are still mathematically in with a chance to qualify for the playoffs, they need to beat the three-time champions by a gigantic margin.
CSK, on the other hand, have qualified for the playoffs, but will not want to go into the next stage of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 at the back of three consecutive losses.
However, former West Indies captain Brian Lara reckons that the men in yellow will not be an easy side to beat, further backing them to go all the way.
“Punjab Kings are going to find it difficult to qualify from here. CSK has played good cricket. For me, they are still a team that has so much strength in their batting line-up and yes, their bowling is not as potent as say, Delhi Capitals, but it is formidable,” Lara said on Cricket.com’s Man vs Machine.
“CSK have played some good cricket. Couple of losses recently, but I don’t think that would deter them from getting into the top two, maybe have the best chance among all teams to win as far as I’m concerned.”
“I know Delhi Capital will take the favouritism after beating CSK. But when it comes to playoffs, MS Dhoni and that group of experienced cricketers he has, it’s going to be tough to beat them,” he added.
With the mega auction just a couple of months away, Lara also shared the three players PBKS should retain ahead of the event.
Lara has gone in for the opening pair of KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal along with left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh.
“The opening pair of Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul have been so good for them. I think it’s not the be-all and end-all of opening pairs but if you can have an opening pair like that and a lot of aggressive players to come,” Lara explained.
Talking about Arshdeep, Lara said, “I feel Arshdeep has got a big career ahead of him. Awesome bowler, very young. There are a lot of bowlers I would want to grab back in the auction – Ravi Bishnoi, Pooran – these are the guys I would want to get back. But in terms of building a side, Indian base of cricketers – two of them batsmen and a left-arm fast bowler who has a lot of potential would be my three,” he added.
Knowing what they need to qualify for the playoffs, Lara feels PBKS may do what Mumbai Indians (MI) did to Rajasthan Royals (RR).
“Don’t think it’s going to be easy. Punjab Kings who have in front of them the mathematical equation of getting in (to the playoffs), could be destructive. We saw Mumbai Indians take on Rajasthan Royals, knowing exactly what they need to do give themselves a better chance if it came down to better run-rate. They skittled out RR and chased it down in 8.2 overs,” Lara, who has played 430 matches for West Indies said.
“That is the sort of performance you might see from Punjab Kings. This is just not about winning, but it is about winning by a wide margin. So, they could surprise CSK and taking that into consideration, it is not going to be easy for CSK to win this game.”
“On the other hand, it could blow up in the face of Punjab Kings and with their big effort, they could fall into pieces very quickly. But I think that their batting is solid, especially upfront and I feel they’re going to give themselves the best chance possible,” he further adds.