Chennai Super Kings face the Kings XI Punjab in the second match of the double-header on Sunday. The former is yet unbeaten in two matches while the former was overcome by RCB in their previous games. Batting concerns bother both teams as they head into the game, especially due to Mohali’s tendency to produce big scores.
Ashwin vs Dhoni is going to be an interesting encounter considering the former’s role under Dhoni’s leadership over the years. Can he out-think India’s most celebrated captain, or will CSK earn three victories in three?
Chennai Super Kings
MS Dhoni (c), Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Faf du Plessis, Harbhajan Singh, Dwayne Bravo, Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Deepak Chahar, KM Asif, Kanishk Seth, Lungi Ngidi, Dhruv Shorey, Murali Vijay, Sam Billings, Mark Wood, Kshitiz Sharma, Monu Kumar, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Imran Tahir, Karn Sharma, Shardul Thakur, N Jagadeesan, David Willey.
Kings XI Punjab
Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin(c), Yuvraj Singh, Karun Nair, Lokesh Rahul, Chris Gayle, David Miller, Aaron Finch, Marcus Stoinis, Mayank Agarwal, Ankit Rajpoot, Manoj Tiwary, Mohit Sharma, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Barinder Sran, Andrew Tye, Akshdeep Nath, Ben Dwarshuis, Pardeep Sahu, Mayank Dagar, Manzoor Dar
Where the teams stand
Chennai Super Kings
CSK will miss Suresh Raina for their next two games including this one after he sustained an injury against KKR. Dhruv Shorey and Murali Vijay are likely candidates to replace him. If Dhoni picks Vijay, Ambati Rayudu might just have to drop down to the middle order. Shorey, on the other hand, can float in the lineup given his generally defensive style of play. Raina’s injury might just be a blessing in disguise considering he hasn't been in the best form lately. Billings was excellent against KKR, while Bravo took CSK home against Mumbai. The opening pair were also influential in their last victory. Rayudu and Watson got off to a decent start against Mumbai as well, but failed to capitalise on it then. Dhoni is always a danger in that lower middler order despite his recent failures. CSK have a good lineup, and they have proved that they can chase targets even above 200 already.
Chennai’s bowlers have been inconsistent in that no bowler has performed in both matches, but a few bowlers have showed up in one match and the rest did the second time. This has led to opposition teams scoring 202 and 165 against them. On a good batting pitch, they must be vary of the rate they concede at. They will not be a able to chase 180+ scores too many times.
Fantasy Picks: Billings and Watson are two easy picks. Selecting Dwayne Bravo could go either way, just like any other bowler from CSK. Dhoni is bound to be a popular pick regardless.
Kings XI Punjab
Kings XI have been heavily reliant on KL Rahul to get them off to good starts and contribute to the total. Mayank Agarwal has looked good in the short spans he stays in the middle, but conversion has always been his main issue. Yuvraj Singh was simply beaten for pace against RCB, encapsulating his recent form. With Manoj Tiwary on the bench, Ashwin must be brave enough to tinker a little with his lineup in the interest of the team. Dropping Yuvi is a big call, but Tiwary might just solidify the middle order more. Moving on, Karun Nair has been in great form along with KL, scoring 50 and 29 in his two games. Nair and Rahul have been the main architects of Punjab’s innings with their contributions, and it has not been enough on one occasion. Finch was perhaps unfairly given out first ball last time, but he will be a valuable cog in that middle order. Stoinis was solid against RCB, and he too holds the potential to get big scores for Punjab. If this batting lineup can utilise the Mohali pitch to their strengths, this will be an interesting contest.
Punjab’s spinners have been phenomenal so far, especially the captain himself. Patel was expensive against Delhi, but bounced back in the last game. Ur Rahman continues to justify his place in the side above the likes of Chris Gayle. Mohit Sharma and Andrew Tye have been expensive, the former more so than the latter. Tye was great against RCB, stemming the run flow with his sub 7 economy, but Sharma gave the game away by conceding at almost 13. In Mohali, taking pace off the ball will be the best strategy to employ, and Punjab are excellently equipped for that. The slow bowlers will once again be crucial to Punjab’s cause, and Ashwin will need to lead by example. This match promises to be another close encounter for CSK.
Fantasy Picks: Karun Nair, KL Rahul, and Ashwin are all reliable picks from Punjab. Finch can be destructive as well, a worthy gamble given his proven ability in the shortest format. Axar Patel and Mohit Sharma are the unworthy gambles, while Mayank Agarwal is due a big innings, but is another risk in your team.
Punjab win. Their bowling has the ability to stop the CSK batting, and the batting looks slightly more stable than Chennai’s.
Who will claim a vital win in this contest, the Kings XI Punjab or Chennai Super Kings? Let us know in the comments and poll below.