‘Intent’ in focus as in-form sides collide to settle unfinished business

back icon
25 Sep 2021 | 12:34 PM
authorAnirudh Suresh

‘Intent’ in focus as in-form sides collide to settle unfinished business

Victory against CSK will take KKR to third on the points table

Heading into the second phase of IPL 2021, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) were two teams who needed to prove a point. 

CSK, after a rollicking start to the first leg in India, had to show the world that they had it in them to perform with the same authority in a country where they were battered last season, while KKR needed to demonstrate that they were a far better team than what the points table suggested. There was pride at stake for both franchises, who had demons of their own to deal with.

Two matches each later, it’s fair to say, then, that both the sides have made their points, and that too in some fashion. And fascinatingly enough, they’ve happened to make their statements against the same set of opponents.

And so that brings us to the clash on Sunday, where there will be bragging rights up for grabs. On current form at least, you could say that Abu Dhabi will be overseeing the clash between the unstoppable force that is Brendon McCullum’s KKR and the immovable object that is Stephen Fleming’s CSK. 

Can CSK exploit the vulnerable KKR middle-order?

Since the restart, KKR have looked like a true champion side. They’ve not simply beaten their opponents, but obliterated them. Both their matches in the second-leg have been one-sided affairs.

And this utter dominance, which at times has been scary, has been directly driven by the top-order. The introduction of Venkatesh Iyer, who across two games has struck at a SR of 164.91, has transformed KKR’s batting to the extent that they’ve become unrecognizable. Iyer has also injected confidence into Gill and Tripathi, and such is the fearlessness with which the KKR top-order has batted that they’ve scored 253 runs in 25.1 overs so far in this UAE leg of IPL 2021.  

But CSK will know that lying beneath is a middle-order which is not just unstable, but vulnerable too.

In the first phase of IPL 2021, KKR’s middle-order (No.4 to No.7) averaged a paltry 18.5 and lost a wicket every 14.3 balls - only SRH and PBKS’ middle-order batters fared worse. The management played musical chairs with the positions of Morgan, Dinesh Karthik, Narine, Russell and Shakib and nothing, really, seemed to work. There was no role clarity and the Knight Riders’ middle-order simply reeked of instability, with too many cooks being present. 

Both RCB and MI failed to ask questions of KKR’s middle-order but CSK would be hoping to tap right into this vulnerability.  And for that, they would need their seamers to fire in the powerplay. Indeed, CSK took 5 wickets inside the first six overs in their last H2H match against KKR but, overall, Dhoni’s men have blown hot and cold in the first phase with the ball in IPL 2021. 

They could ill-afford to start slow come Sunday, given the outrageous form that the KKR top three find themselves in.

All eyes on Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine

KKR’s mystery spinners Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine enter Sunday’s clash in red-hot form, with both bowling as well as they have together. So far in 16 overs in the second leg, Chakrvarthy and Narine have registered astonishing combined figures of 4/75 off 16 overs, maintaining an ER of 4.68. Incidentally, it is the two of them who have walked away with the Man of the Match award in the first two matches of the UAE leg, despite the batters being mighty impressive. 

How CSK negate the threat of these two wizards could very well end up deciding the fate of the contest. The Super Kings will be aware of this too, for it was their horror show against these two spinners that cost them the game in the two sides’ H2H clash in Abu Dhabi last year.

There, KKR’s then-skipper DK trusted Chakravarthy and Narine to deliver at the death, and the duo repaid the faith by choking the CSK batters. Together they returned figures of 8-0-59-2, and their parsimonious showing saw CSK fail to chase down 168 despite having been 99/1 in 12 overs at one stage. 

The encouraging fact for CSK is that, this season, they’ve been head and shoulders above every side when it comes to attacking spin. The Super Kings’ SR of 150.3 against spinners in IPL 2021 is the best for all sides, and they have also struck a boundary against the slower bowlers once every 5.2 balls, more frequently than any other side. 

Instrumental to this have been Ruturaj Gaikwad, Moeen Ali, Suresh Raina and Ambati Rayudu, who’ve all boasted a SR over 150 against the spinners, and CSK would be hoping for the quartet to continue the good work.

It will be a challenge like no other, though. 

Probable XIs

With both CSK and KKR having won each of their two matches in the second leg, expect the two teams to go into Sunday’s clash unchanged, not disrupting a winning combination.

Kolkata Knight Riders: Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan (c), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Lockie Ferguson, Varun Chakravarthy, Prasidh Krishna

Chennai Super Kings: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Josh Hazlewood

shareGray Share
Chennai Super Kings vs Kolkata Knight RidersIndian Premier League, 2021Chennai Super KingsKolkata Knight RidersVenkatesh IyerShubman GillEoin MorganMS DhoniVarun ChakravarthySunil NarineRuturaj Gaikwad

Related Articles

Sensational Super Kings demolish KKR to lift fourth IPL title
MS Dhoni's men end the 2018-21 cycle with two titles to their name
usercricket.com staff
15 Oct 2021
From wooden-spoon contenders to Dark Horses: how KKR turned their season around
Written off after their dismal showing in the first leg, the Knight Riders have staged a comeback for the ages
userAnirudh Suresh
10 Oct 2021
Jadeja cameo helps CSK prevail in Abu Dhabi thriller
CSK have remained unbeaten after the IPL resumed and are back at the top of the points table
usercricket.com staff
26 Sep 2021
IPL 2021, Match 38 – Chennai Super Kings vs Kolkata Knight Riders: Fantasy Preview
Here are a few tips that could fetch you instant points from Chennai’s clash on Sunday against the in-form Knights
usercricket.com staff
25 Sep 2021
Heavyweights kick-start proceedings as IPL caravan moves to UAE
Following a four-month hiatus, IPL 2021 will officially resume on Sunday with the ‘El Clásico’ of Cricket
userAnirudh Suresh
19 Sep 2021
A Gaikwad and Jadeja special sinks KKR
In what was a must-win game for all practical purposes, KKR failed to defend 30 off the last two overs
userSomesh Agarwal
29 Oct 2020
Onus on batsmen to keep KKR alive
As a collective unit, KKR have been the least impressive batting side in this IPL. Their performance with the bat will decide if they will be on an early flight home or not
userSomesh Agarwal
28 Oct 2020
A drought in the second-half leaves CSK 10 runs short
After adding 90 runs in the first 10 overs, CSK scored only 68 in the last 10
userSomesh Agarwal
07 Oct 2020
CSK move one step closer to playoff qualification with win over KKR
CSK were rescued by a brilliant fifty by Suresh Raina.
userCricket.com Staff
14 Apr 2019
Russell the cynosure as CSK lock horns with KKR
Dhoni's men look to negate West Indian's threat
09 Apr 2019
Cricket like never before
Follow us on
@ 2020 cricket.com | All rights reserved