CHENNAI: Finally, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) arrived at the IPL party. After three consecutive losses, the three-time champions arrested their slide with a comprehensive 10-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab last Sunday. On Wednesday, CSK will look to build on this win when they face an inconsistent Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. IPL POINTS TABLE |
According to captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, CSK succeeded against KXIP because they “did the small things right”. For starters, CSK’s misfiring opener Shane Watson is back among runs and he will provide a huge relief for the team management. With Faf du Plessis continuing his rich vein of form, CSK will hope to ride the momentum against KKR who have a lot of depth in their bowling unit.
“It was a matter of time before Watson hit form. Faf is like a sheet-anchor for us, keeps playing those shots in the middle. He can always confuse the bowler with the lap shots and all coming in,” Dhoni had said of his opening batsmen after the KXIP game.
With Ambati Rayudu back in the XI, the top-order looks settled. The rest of the batting, though, still needs to be sorted out against an attack which will look to bounce back after being taken to the cleaners in their previous match against Delhi Capitals.
With the likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad and Kedar Jadhav unable to fire so far, it will be important that Dhoni, who is gradually finding his touch, promotes himself in the batting order and give himself enough time to tackle the spin twins Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine and the experienced pacer Pat Cummins.
KKR will also be tempted to go in with six specialist bowlers (three spinners and three pacers) in their preferred den Abu Dhabi that has longer boundaries and might see Kuldeep Yadav back in the team.
CSK’s bowling line-up might remain unchanged. Even though their fast bowlers haven’t been able to affect breakthroughs with the new ball, Dhoni will keep his faith on Deepak Chahar and Sam Curran to make inroads in the powerplay overs before bringing on Piyush Chawla and Ravindra Jadeja.
“Every team has furious hitters who can disrupt the bowling, but our bowlers have done well. The good thing is we have one plan. It’s not that we don’t have debates, but it’s one plan; that’s the relationship between us,” Dhoni said.
CSK had won their first game against Mumbai Indians in Abu Dhabi and familiarity with the venue will stand their bowlers in good stead. With a fit-again Dwayne Bravo slowly hitting his stride, the West Indian all-rounder will also lend balance to the attack.
KKR have a good mix of power-hitters and orthodox batsmen in Shubman Gill, Eoin Morgan and Rahul Tripathi. They will also hope their captain Dinesh Karthik and Andre Russell, who has been brilliant with the ball, to come good with the bat.
With two wins and two losses, the Knight Riders are currently fourth on the table, but CSK lead the head-to-head chart with 13 wins from 20 matches. In fact, CSK got the better of KKR in their last six meetings and will aim for another win to better their position in the points table.