It’s been 1,426 days since Chennai last hosted an Indian Premier League (IPL) match but the wait is all set to end as in what will be their first home game in four years, MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings (CSK) will be taking on KL Rahul’s Lucknow Super Giants (LSG).
Both teams have started their respective seasons in contrasting fashion as while LSG thrashed Delhi Capitals, CSK succumbed to the efficiency of defending champions Gujarat Titans on the opening day.
But given the Chennai crowd will be witnessing their Thala in action, up-close, for the first time in four years, do not be surprised if the occasion ends up overshadowing the actual cricket match. Regardless, a cracking contest awaits us at the Chepauk on Monday.
No IPL games have been played at the Chepauk in four years but we know this: it is a spinner’s paradise.
The last time the IPL was played at the Chepauk, in 2019, spinners accounted for 61.20% of the wickets to fall — by some distance the highest proportion for the slower bowlers at any venue. The second-most spin-friendly venue in IPL 2019 was Delhi but there, the tweakers accounted for only 49.40% of the wickets.
Different formats, but in the last international game played at Chepauk — the third ODI between India and Australia two weeks ago — spinners ended up picking 66.66% of the wickets.
Both CSK and LSG, who have plenty of spin options at their disposal, will certainly be licking their lips heading into this clash.
Chepauk, in IPL 2019, also proved to be a very low-scoring venue. The average batting-first score at the venue of 144 was the lowest among all grounds.
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For small leagues: Ruturaj Gaikwad (capt), KL Rahul (vc)
For grand leagues: Moeen Ali (capt), Ravindra Jadeja (vice-capt)
Stats that matter
> Rahul loves batting against CSK. In his IPL career, he’s averaged 43.5 and struck at 142.6 against the Super Kings. His last seven scores vs CSK read 40, 98*, 5, 29, 63, 71 and 55.
> Deepak Chahar has taken at least one wicket in each of his last seven games at Chepauk. In eight home games in the 2019 season, he took 10 wickets at an average of 23.4 and ER of 7.7.
> Nicholas Pooran, interestingly, has become a pretty consistent batter in the IPL. In his last 14 IPL knocks, Pooran has been dismissed under 30 just four times. He will enter the CSK clash on the back of a brisk 21-ball 36 against the Capitals.
> Since the start of 2021, Moeen Ali has taken 30 wickets against left-handers at an economy of 6.4. Considering LSG have the likes of Mayers, Pooran and Krunal, expect Moeen to not just bowl his quota of four overs, but play a big role.
Grand league punts
> Taking into account the Chepauk factor and the fact that LSG have three key left-hand batters, it’d be prudent to gamble on Moeen just for the value he could provide with the ball. Needless to say, he could also take off big time with the bat, in spin-friendly conditions.
> Likewise, do not sleep on Jadeja in these conditions. He picked a solitary wicket in the GT encounter but could cause colossal damage at Chepauk.
> Deepak Hooda is another name to keep a close eye on. He’ll bat at three, yes, but his off-spin might fetch a wicket or two as well, considering CSK have five left-handers in their top seven.
Top Criclytics projections
CSK: Devon Conway, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ben Stokes, Ambati Rayudu, Moeen Ali, Ravindra Jadeja, Shivam Dube, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Mitchell Santner, Deepak Chahar, Rajvardhan Hangargekar
LSG: KL Rahul (c), Kyle Mayers, Marcus Stoinis, Deepak Hooda, Krunal Pandya, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Ayush Badoni, Mark Wood, Krishnappa Gowtham, Ravi Bishnoi, Avesh Khan