All teams have played their inaugural matches by now, and two of the four victors prepare to face each other in a mega-clash. Two-time champions each Chennai and Kolkata will face each other at the Chepauk for the fifth T20 of the IPL in what can only be pure entertainment.
Chennai came back from behind to trump Mumbai in a closely fought encounter, while KKR comfortably eased to victory against Bangalore in their last matches. Who will continue their winning ways and register a second consecutive win?
Kolkata Knight Riders
Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn, Dinesh Karthik (c), Robin Uthappa, Mitchell Johnson, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Shubman Gill, Ishank Jaggi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Nitish Rana, Vinay Kumar, Apoorv Wankhade, Rinku Singh, Shivam Mavi, Cameron Delport, Javon Searles, Tom Curran.
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.
Where the Teams Stand
Kolkata Knight Riders
KKR’s batting is perhaps the most underrated of all squads in the IPL, and for good reason. They have a solid middle order consisting of Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, and captain Dinesh Karthik. Rinku Singh was a surprise inclusion in the team given the likes of Shubman Gill and Ishank Jaggi on the bench. Jaggi would have been the ideal batsman for the spot given his attacking style of play. KKR’s opening combination can be hit and miss, especially with Lynn bound to take some time to get back into his groove. Narine’s entire approach means he is not dependable, but he can be very handy as he was against Bangalore last game. Andre Russell at the back to finish things off rounds off a well-balanced, but unreliable batting lineup.
Karthik used 7 bowlers in the last game over 20 overs, daring to give even Nitish Rana the ball. Vinay Kumar was disappointing despite taking 2 wickets, conceding 30 in two overs and earning the scalps at a time when batsmen had no choice but to slog. However, he might receive more purchase on the typically slow Chepauk wicket. Kumar will have to start justifying his place in the squad soon, but giving him another game is a gamble that might just pay off. Kuldeep had an off day, but his willingness to pitch the ball up inevitably means he is more vulnerable. On another day, it will fetch him plenty of wickets. The rest of the bowlers were all superb, maintaining economies of 7.5 on average between Russell, Johnson, Chawla, and Narine. The biggest revelation from the last game was Nitish Rana, who scalped both AB and Kohli in his over. One can’t blame the commentators for believing he would go for 36 in his over in front of two of the world’s best batsmen, but he held his own comfortably. He could be a potential X-factor with the ball in a team loaded with quality bowlers.
Fantasy Picks: Karthik for his astonishing average of 80+ in all T20s since last years IPL. He is worthy of being any squad’s power player. Narine is another dependable choice due to his all-around consistency. Besides Nitish Rana, all the rest need more time to prove themselves. Lynn is perhaps the most unpredictable pick of them all, but his past record might encourage a gamble.
Chennai Super Kings
It’s still early days, but Chennai’s batting fell flat against Mumbai. Rayudu and Watson are not the best opening pair of the tournament, both being past their prime by a long way. Raina at three can still be depended upon given his affinity for the IPL and the yellow jersey. Jadhav and Jadeja are esteemed too far above their actual worth. Jadhav has inexplicably lost his big hitting abilities, and with the injury he sustained in the last match, he might not even play against KKR. Nobody remembers the last time Jadeja put up a decent performance with the bat for India or CSK, so much cannot be expected of him. Dhoni and Bravo, especially the latter now, are key cogs in the middle order for their team if they wish to win. CSK have an uncanny knack of playing brilliantly as a team despite the shortcomings of their individual players. While their batting lineup is not shaping up to be the best yet, it would be dangerous to underestimate them.
Youngster Deepak Chahar was brilliant against Mumbai, ending with figures of 3-0-14-2. Dwayne Bravo and Shane Watson were also effective with the ball, maintaining low economies and taking wickets. Mark Wood and Imran Tahir were expensive, but neither is likely to lose their place after just one game. The attack does not have any big names, but their balance of all-rounders with Indian bowlers form a decent attack. They will have to play out of their skins against KKR.
Fantasy Picks: Based on the last match, only Dwayne Bravo is worth having. Chahar was great, but he needs to be consistent to be included in a fantasy squad.
KKR win. Simply because they have a much better balance to their squad.
Will the Knight Riders get the job done, will the Super Kings cause an upset and how are you tracking in your IPL Fantasy season so far? Let us know in the comments below.