Chennai Super Kings has aplenty to fix, but it will be Kolkata Knight Riders, who will be more worried about how to approach ahead when they meet the former on Wednesday.
Not too many teams have the luxury of having a settled eleven, and that is the biggest talking point for the think tanks of the sides. The Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) are certainly having a tough time in striking the right eleven and fixing the respective slots within it. An off-color Sunil Narine – 27 runs from four matches at an 87.09 strike rate – at the top along with a misfiring captain – 37 runs from four games – has done little to improve their situation.
On the other hand, with Andre Russell and Pat Cummins not getting into the groove, and Kuldeep Yadav struggling too, KKR have one long list of issues to address. Despite some inspirational knocks from Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan, and Rahul Tripathi’s cameo, the Riders fell short by 18 runs in pursuit of 228 at the belter of Sharjah, in their last game against Delhi Capitals (DC).
The Chennai Super Kings (CSK), on the flip side, have behaved like that old scooter’s engine that takes a few kicks to get warmed up before starting finally. Their batting order lacked power and intent in their first four games this edition, but once it fired, it fired with such might that the Kings XI Punjab’s bowlers were left completely flustered and mum. An unbeaten 181-run opening stand between Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis ensured a confidence-boosting victory to the unit after making a hat-trick of losses.
By the coach Stephen Fleming’s admission, the rare and historic chase did “mask out certain deficiencies”, and of course, CSK has not ticked all the boxes with the last victory. However, imposing a crushing defeat on opponents will certainly do a world of good to the Yellow Army after an uncharacteristic start to the tournament.
After all, how many times did anyone see CSK tottering at the bottom of the table after the conclusion of one-third of the tournament? As mentioned, CSK has aplenty to fix, but it will be KKR, who will be more worried about how to approach ahead when they meet the former on Wednesday at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi.
Pitch and conditions
The track at Abu Dhabi has been in favour of both pacers and spinners, however, with the same strip being used this time as the last match, the latter will enjoy their time more. In the 6 matches thus far at this venue, the record of teams chasing and defending has been perfectly equal- three is to three. Although, the teams should prefer batting first on this track as the tournament progresses from here on.
Playing Combinations for KKR vs CSK
Kolkata Knight Riders Probable 11
Sunil Narine’s performance with the willow has been under constant scrutiny and more so, because he has kept Tom Banton waiting. Shubman Gill got off to a start in the last game, however, he denied himself a magnificent chance by playing an impatient shot. Unlike him, Nitish Rana did not falter and soaked the pressure during a high-profile chase, through his half-century. Some poor calls apart from his cold run with the bat has put Dinesh Karthik under the scanner.
Eoin Morgan and Rahul Tripathi joined hands in the last game to take the game deep, however, they could not make it in the end. Youngsters Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, and Varun Chakravarthy have been able to make an impression so far through their exploits. Though all of them went for runs in the last game, Sharjah is not the best way to judge a bowlers’ mettle.
Probable 11- Shubman Gill, Sunil Narine, Nitish Rana, Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik (C & WK), Eoin Morgan, Pat Cummins, Rahul Tripathi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarthy
Chennai Super Kings
Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis put up a record show against Kings XI Punjab as they displayed a clear change of plan and approach. Giving up the slow-start template, the openers played positive cricket to ensure a 10-wicket win for their team to drag themselves out of the bottom of the table.
With the addition of Amabti Rayudu and Dwayne Bravo in the scheme of things, their unit looks in good health. Although, the latter failed to strike with the ball in the last clash and did not get a chance to bat courtesy the largest opening partnership of CSK. Shardul Thakur was expensive, though he led the bowling unit has he bagged a couple of wickets with spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Piyush Chawla picking one apiece.
Probable 11- Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (C &WK), Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Sam Curran, Shardul Thakur, Piyush Chawla, Deepak Chahar
KKR vs CSK Head to Head
Played- 23 | CSK won- 14 | KKR won- 8 | NR- 1
Match Timings- 7:30 PM (IST), 6:00 PM (Local).
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