One team looking to bounce back and the other hoping to build on a couple of fantastic results will form the crux when Chennai Super Kings host Kings XI Punjab at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday.
Chennai suffered their first defeat, an absolutely demoralising one at that, against the Mumbai Indians on Wednesday. An horrendous display of bowling in the second-half saw the Men in Yellow concede 88 off the last five overs in the 37-run loss at the Wankhede.
Worryingly, CSK’s age factor was made evident as they endured a lacklustre outing on the field – dropping catches at vitals points and up to scratch with the ground fielding as well.
Punjab on the other hand have come good after a slow start and have won two games on the trot, the more impressive victory coming against Delhi Capitals. Big money signing Sam Curran shut out Delhi’s lower order with a hat-trick as the Kings came from the brink to edge their opponents by 14 runs.
CSK maybe glad to be back at the MA Chidambaram Stadium but they will be up against a bowler with a comprehensive knowledge of the track.
It will be a homecoming of sorts for Ravichandran Ashwin, who enjoyed a hugely successful time at the Chennai franchise from 2009 to 2015. All of his T20 experience playing at Chepauk has come when he represented the local side.
In the past, Ashwin was utilised by MS Dhoni during the Powerplays at Chepauk and the off-spinner delivered for his skipper, more often than not.
In his last game, Ashwin scalped Prithvi Shaw off the first delivery of the innings and there is plenty to suggest that he will roll his arm over early on Saturday. With due not likely considering it’s a day game, Murugan Ashwin and Mujeeb Ur Rahman will also play a vital role. And on the other side, it will be Imran Tahir spearheading the spinners.
In terms of the batting, the story is quite different with both teams. While Kings XI have been quite reliant on their top three, especially KL Rahul and Chris Gayle, CSK bat really deep.
There is enough disparity in numbers of the KXIP top three in wins and losses but hardly a difference with CSK.
Rahul and Gayle were prolific last season but have had a sedate start to this season registering just one half century each. The duo were particularly brutal at the start of the innings and Punjab will be hoping the pair regain their touch.
Gayle has historically struggled when the balls turns away from him and adopts a cautious approach against off spinners. This could tempt Dhoni into bringing Harbhajan Singh back in the scheme of things.
You can view other player match ups here.
Injury list: CSK: West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Bravo suffered a hamstring injury in the loss to Mumbai and will be doubtful to start Saturday’s game.
KXIP: Chris Gayle sat out the previous game with a lat injury as Sam Curran replaced him. Kings XI will be sweating on the availability of the opener.
CSK aren’t a team that make too many changes but coach Stephen Fleming had suggested that they need to do better in terms of their combination. Bravo’s injury could see him miss out and with Rayudu failing miserable at the top, Faf du Plessis is a good option.
CSK: Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, Suresh Raina, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir, Deepak Chahar, Scott Kuggeleijn, Mohit Sharma.
Kings XI are on a roll and with due not likely to play a role in the afternoon start, Ashwin may go in spin heavy.
KXIP: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh, David Miller, R Ashwin, Murugan Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Hardus Viljoen/Sam Curran.