IPL 2019 | Chennai Look to Secure Home Playoff Against All But Eliminated Punjab

Cricketnext Staff | Updated: May 5, 2019, 10:57 AM IST
IPL 2019 | Chennai Look to Secure Home Playoff Against All But Eliminated Punjab

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Assured of a playoff berth, Chennai Super Kings will aim to maintain pole position on the points table when they clash with a beleaguered Kings XI Punjab on Sunday (May 5).

In what will be both sides' last game of the group stage, Chennai will want to sign off with a win and ensure a top-two finish while Punjab will hope to end a disappointing campaign on a high.

After a defeat against Mumbai Indians in an earlier game, Chennai bounced back with a massive 80-run win over Delhi Capitals in their last match, to reclaim the No.1 spot on the table. They are currently on 18 points and a win against Punjab will take them to 20 and assure them of a top-two finish. This will be crucial as it will then give them a home qualifier.

Chennai will be on a high having served Delhi a severe thrashing. Suresh Raina, who has had an iffy season so far, finally found some form as he slammed a quick-fire half-century while MS Dhoni smashed an unbeaten 22-ball 44 to take the side to 179/4. Ravindra Jadeja and Imran Tahir then shared seven wickets between them to bundle Delhi out for just 99.

Dhoni and Raina are in good touch but Chennai will be fretting on the form of Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis. With the qualifiers not too far away the visitors will hope the batting order fires in unison and hit their straps before the playoffs.

Punjab, on the other hand, already out of the play-offs race after a seven-wicket loss at the hands of Kolkata Knight Riders would be playing only for pride. With 10 points from 13 games, they are at seventh spot, a rung above bottom-placed Royal Challengers Bangalore.

It has been a frustrating season for the R Ashwin-led team. They showed patches of brilliance in a few games but often lost the key moments. Ashwin admitted that the powerplay has been his team's "massive problem".

"Powerplay has been one of our massive problems. Most games that we won is because through the middle overs or sometimes in the death overs where you had some incredible performances by (Mohammed) Shami or Sam (Curran), something like that," said Ashwin.

Punjab's in-form openers Chris Gayle and K L Rahul would be keen to come good against Chennai while likes of Sam Curran, Mayank Agarwal and Nicholas Pooran will have to shoulder more responsibility in the middle-order. Their bowling largely depends on skipper Ashwin and Shami.

The surface at the PCA Stadium in Mohali has been a haven for batsmen and another high-scoring encounter can be expected on Sunday.

PREVIOUS MEETING

Faf du Plessis' 38-ball 54 backed up by Harbhajan Singh's economical spell helped Chennai record a 22-run win when these two sides met last month at MA Chidambaram Stadium.

PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

KL Rahul: The opener has been the standout performer for Punjab and is easily the highest run-scorer for his side in the tournament. He failed in the last match against Kolkata and that will be hurting him. With just a game to go, Rahul will want to cap off an excellent season with a big one.

Shane Watson: Barring a 96 against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Watson has had a quiet season so far with voices also calling for him to be dropped. He has suffered on the sluggish home surfaces in Chennai but the pacy Mohali surface is one that will suit him. The ball coming onto the bat nicely is something that Watson will enjoy and he will hope to find his feet ahead of the playoffs.​

TEAM NEWS/AVAILABILITY

Punjab: There are no injury concerns as such but Punjab might want to bring in Mujeeb ur Rahman for the final game in place of Andrew Tye.

Chennai: The visitors might not want to tinker with a winning combination.

PROBABLE XI

Punjab: KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Mandeep Singh, Nicholas Pooran(w), Sam Curran, Ravichandran Ashwin(c), Murugan Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh, Mujeeb ur Rahman.

Chennai: Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni(w/c), Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Deepak Chahar, Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir
First Published: May 4, 2019, 4:53 PM IST
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