Two in-form sides – Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders – lock horns in Abu Dhabi for one of the highly-anticipated clashes of this year’s competition. The last time these two sides clashed against each other, it was on a delicious track for batsmen in Mumbai. There was absolute carnage from Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis to begin with before Andre Russell and Pat Cummins put on an absolute show in the second half.
Traditionally a clash which has been highlighted by the performance of Sunil Narine, the emergence of Varun Chakravarthy since the last season has shifted the light. On the other end, Chennai have had a wood over the Knights, with four wins out of the last five games that they have played each other. Historically, Chennai have an advantage over Kolkata with 16 wins out of the 25 times that they have played each other but Andre Russell's history against Chennai would definitely ignite the Knights.
Who will hold an edge over the other?
Head to Head
Matches - 25 | Chennai - 16 | Kolkata - 9
Last 5 matches
Chennai – W4 | Kolkata – W1
Well before the clash between Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Capitals, the nature of the pitch in Abu Dhabi showed insane similarity to the ones in the sub-continent, slow and dry. In the first two matches this season, teams chasing have won the match at Sheikh Zayed Stadium. On an average, teams have scored 124 in the first innings, which shows that batting isn’t an easy task at the venue.
However, historically, the average first innings total in Abu Dhabi has been 164, with 55% of the games being won by the side batting second. When it comes to the split of wickets, the pacers have had an edge over the spinners, with 409 (69%) wickets in comparison to 180 (31%). Barring one game, the last five games at the venue has been won by sides chasing.
If Mumbai’s clash against KKR is suggestive of anything, batting becomes slightly better under the lights, with Kolkata chasing down Mumbai’s total well before the end. Since the start of 2020, Abu Dhabi has seen 661 fours and 230 sixes, showing that it is still a venue where runs can be made but with the right application.
While you could go for the above team, you also have the option of choosing your own team from Cricket.com’s Fantasy Research Centre. You can use this tool to build your team with the help of algorithms. Based on your preferences, the platform will guide you to create the ideal fantasy XI.
Ever since his move to the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, Dwayne Bravo’s form has been on the rise, playing an integral role in the franchise’s dramatic shift from the bottom half of the table to picking up a silverware. Post that, Bravo continued his form into the IPL season, with an eight-ball 23 against Mumbai before he picked up 3 wickets for just 25 runs. Against RCB, he was instrumental with the ball (3/24). With six wickets in the last two games, expect Bravo to play an integral role against KKR.
With ten wickets this season, Varun Chakravarthy has already shown the world that he is not a one-season wonder after his explosive 2020 IPL season in the Middle East. Chennai Super Kings would be well aware of the exploits of the Indian spinner, who tormented them throughout the last season. In KKR’s last clash in Abu Dhabi against Mumbai, it was evident that spin played a big role, which is expected to continue on Sunday, against Chennai.
While Andre Russell has suffered a dip in his form over the past two seasons, his returns against Chennai Super Kings is always top-notch. In case you forgot, earlier this season when the two sides met, it was Russell, who kick-started a hope for the Knights with his counter-attacking half-century, a knock that nearly knocked out Chennai to the floor. Against Chennai, Russell has scored 280 runs, averaging 46.67 while striking at 172.8.
It is a definite risk to pick Sam Curran in the team, especially after how Chennai didn’t pick him in the clash against RCB but with KKR in town, MS Dhoni should bring back the English all-rounder. Curran was a crucial part of the Chennai setup before the postponement of the tournament. However, since the restart, the southpaw hasn’t featured for the men in Yellow. Our Criclytics Player Projector predicts Curran to score between 14-22 runs against KKR and pick 2-3 wickets.
Faf du Plessis has been instrumental to Chennai’s success this season but in the past, the South African opener has had his fair share of struggle against the Windies mystery spinner, Sunil Narine. The Windies spinner has accounted twice for the South African batsman, conceding just 22 runs out of the six overs that he has bowled. Expect Narine to open the bowling against CSK.
Chennai Super Kings: Faf du Plessis, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Moeen Ali, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Sam Curran Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar
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