Despite their loss to Delhi Capitals on Friday, Kolkata Knight Riders still welcomed Saturday as the team ranked second in the IPL 2019. Come toss time on Sunday at the Eden Gardens against Chennai Super Kings, however, their position might be different owing to the results of matches on Friday.
Regardless, KKR would be aiming to get back to winning ways after two consecutive defeats, and are going to face an opponent who are going from strength to strength with every passing match. Led by a captain who won his 100th IPL match but also uncharacteristically lost his cool over an umpiring decision in that very match, CSK know how important Dhoni could be once more.
The 37-year-old is the team’s highest run-scorer in this campaign, and on a pitch that is a dream to bat on against a bowling attack that hasn’t quite clicked so far, MSD could be lethal. As a whole, the CSK batting line-up, consisting of the likes of Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson and Suresh Raina have all clicked when needed.
The ultra-economical Deepak Chahar has been key to Chennai’s bowling unit, and is the second highest wicket-taker with 10 wickets, also setting the record for the most number of dot balls in an innings in the last match against Rajasthan Royals. Throw Harbhajan Singh and Imran Tahir into the mix, and you have a bowling attack that just seems to have the perfect balance.
KKR, on the other hand, have been derailed by two consecutive losses, but still find themselves with a strong chance of qualifying for the playoffs owing to their good start to the tournament. After their loss to Delhi Capitals, captain Dinesh Karthik had mentioned how the bowlers must do more for the team to have continued success.
That will be even more vital against the in-form batting line up of CSK. The Eden Gardens pitch has demonstrated that even scores of close to 180 have not been par for the course for the team batting first, and the likes of Shubman Gill, Robin Uthappa and Nitish Rana will have to convert their good starts into big scores if they bat first.
The home side sorely missed the presence of Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine at the top of the order, and will hope that Joe Denly, if picked, can recover from being dismissed on a first ball duck in the last match.
If both sides play to their potential, we could be in for a cracker of a contest at the Eden.
Players to watch out for
MS Dhoni: Dhoni has already shown more emotion on the field during this IPL than he cumulatively did throughout his entire IPL career. Whether that’s indicative of an increased combative streak or a direct consequence of the situations he found himself in, one can’t tell, but what can’t be denied is his form. He is the highest run-scorer for Chennai this term, and looks like he is back to his best ahead of what could be some of the most important months of his cricket career, leading up to the World Cup. Dhoni is in inspired form, watch out for fireworks on an Eden batting paradise.
Shubman Gill: Indian youngster Gill recorded his highest IPL score of 65 in the last match, and will look to build upon the innings in the match against CSK. He has been trusted by his captain to play wherever the team requires to, and could appear anywhere between opening the batting to number 7, depending on the availability of Chris Lynn and Narine. The KKR batting line up is in good rhythm on the Eden Gardens pitch, so expect Gill to get more runs when he squares off against Chahar and co.
KKR is still waiting on the fitness and availability of Sunil Narine and Chris Lynn. Carlos Brathwaite is expected to retain his place in the side if Narine is not fit, while Shubman Gill is likely to continue opening the batting.
On the other hand, Chennai Super Kings is expected to have a full squad to choose from.
Chennai Super Kings: Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Mitchell Santner, Deepak Chahar, Harbhajan Singh / Shardul Thakur, Imran Tahir
Kolkata Knight Riders: Joe Denly, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill, Dinesh Karthik, Andre Russell, Suni Narine / Carlos Brathwaite, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (captain & WK), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Murali Vijay, Kedar Jadhav, Sam Billings, Ravindra Jadeja, Dhruv Shorey, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Rituraj Gaikwad, Dwayne Bravo, Karn Sharma, Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Santner, Shardul Thakur, Mohit Sharma, K.M. Asif, Deepak Chahar, N. Jagadeesan (wk), Scott Kuggeleign
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First Published: April 14, 2019, 7:38 AM IST