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Spin trial awaits KKR at Chepauk

Last updated on 13 May 2023 | 02:42 PM
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Spin trial awaits KKR at Chepauk

Chennai Super Kings have a foot firmly placed in the playoffs, while Kolkata Knight Riders are all but out with seven losses.

There’s not much in terms of consequence as Chennai Super Kings take on the Kolkata Knight Riders at Chepauk. Well, at least for the visitors, whose season is all but done on the back of their thumping defeat at the hands of Rajasthan Royals. Sunday's clash is still relevant for the hosts, who with a victory will go a long way in confirming a spot in the Top Two.

Chennai’s batting has been a notch above the rest, and consistent performances from the likes of Matheesha Pathirana and Ravindra Jadeja has kept their bowling performances afloat. 

Closer to the other end of the points table, Kolkata pocketed a few wins on the back of some brilliant individual performances. That’s pretty much been the story of their season. They will back their spin attack to exploit the spin-friendly conditions on offer at Chepauk. 

Things to watch out for

CSK’s powerplay batting vs KKR’s powerplay bowling

This season, CSK batters have been a force to be reckoned with in the powerplay. They have lost the least wickets, and have the second-best run rate. What will make their job easier is KKR’s pacers’ dismal performances with the new ball. They have conceded runs at a whopping 10.4 RPO, and have managed to take a wicket only every 28 balls. 

Will Kolkata fall to yet another spin choke?

IPL 2023 has seen Kolkata’s batters fall time and again to spinners. They have lost a wicket every 14 balls to spinners, and it goes below 13 when they play away. If the last game at Chepauk was any indication, Kolkata’s batters will have their task cut out for them while batting here. 

Matheesha Pathirana - CSK’s death overs’ specialist

Run-scoring in IPL 2023 has reached stratospheric levels. Maybe, that’s why pacers going at 11.3 RPO in the final four comes as no surprise. And that makes Pathirana’s numbers even more ridiculous. He bowled more than 15 overs at the death and has conceded at 8.3 RPO while taking a wicket every seven balls. He has single handedly given CSK’s bowling some semblance of respect.

With a playoff spot pretty much in their pocket, will MSD experiment by giving Pathirana the new ball, or will he stick to his tried and tested methods? Only time will tell. 

Ground Details

Unlike previous seasons, the pitches in Chennai have played more friendly to the batters, with an average first innings total of 173. Not just that, the average winning first innings total is 196, which only shows how teams have generally preferred to chase at the venue. Barring the opening two games - against Lucknow and Rajasthan - all teams have won chasing at the venue. 

It is no secret that spinners are vital to a team’s success in Chennai. 30 wickets have been picked up by spinners, at an average of 3 wickets/innings. But, thanks to the more open ventilation at the venue, it has allowed the pacers to be potent as well, with 27 wickets. 

However, the last game played here played a lot like the Chepauk of yore. The ball stayed a bit low, and the surface was a bit tacky. 

Tactical Nous

Rahmanullah Gurbaz vs Maheesh Theekshana

Among batters who have scored at least 30 runs against the Lankan, Gurbaz has the second highest strike-rate (227) and is yet to be dismissed by him. MSD has regularly used Theekshana in the powerplay; should Gurbaz survive the initial overs, MSD might look to make him play more overs of pace than going to Theekshana in the powerplay. 

Ajinkya Rahane vs Sunil Narine

Sunil Narine has gotten the better of the Mumbaikar four times in IPL. This is the second-most for any spinner, and he’s done this while going at just 7.7 RPO. In the reverse fixture, Rahane's 29-ball-71 helped CSK post an imposing 235. Rana can look to bring him early on in Rahane’s innings to try and get him out. 

More overs of spin to KKR

CSK could look to bowl 12 overs of spin against the handicapped-against-spin KKR lineup. Moeen Ali has bowled his entire quota of overs just thrice this season. Importantly, the last two times he did that, he conceded just 0/13 (vs LSG) and 1/16 (vs DC). 

And yeah, we get that Nitish Rana might not be your run-of-the-mill LHB who struggles against off-spin, but IPL 2023 has been his worst season against spin. With three left-handers in the KKR middle-order, it might make even more reason for Ali to bowl more overs. 

Probable XIs

Chennai Super Kings: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Devon Conway, Ajinkya Rahane, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu (IP), Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, MS Dhoni (C & WK), Deepak Chahar, Tushar Deshpande, Maheesh Theekshana, Matheesha Pathirana (IP)

Kolkata Knight Riders: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (WK), Jason Roy, Venkatesh Iyer (IP), Nitish Rana (C), Andre Russell, Rinku Singh, Sunil Narine, Shardul Thakur, Anukul Roy, Harshit Rana, Varun Chakaravarthy, Suyash Sharma (IP)

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