Three-time champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) will aim to keep their campaign on track when they face Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the 21st match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium here on Wednesday evening.
The MS Dhoni-led team had drawn flak for their below-par performance in three of their earlier games before making a roaring comeback against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) with a 10-wicket win, built on blistering knocks from Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis.
KKR, on the other hand, started the season with a loss before bouncing back in the next two games. However, the Dinesh Karthik-led side looked out of sorts against Delhi Capitals, losing the match by 18 runs.
Despite having quality players in their ranks, Karthik's decisions backfired and the wicket-keeper-batsman was heavily criticised for lack of leadership skills.
Also, Karthik has struggled with the bat, managing merely 37 from four games. The other batsmen too have disappointed as none of them feature in the list of top-10 run-getters.
Opener Shubman Gill has tried his best to hand decent start to the side, but lacked support from the other end and has failed to convert the starts. The 21-year-old player has made 152 from four games.
Karthik has preferred Sunil Narine as opener but the Caribbean all-rounder has let his skipper down, managing just 27 from four games. The KKR think-tank might opt to promote Rahul Tripathi and Eoin Morgan up the order and keep Karthik and Andre Russell for later overs. Russell hasn't clicked with the bat this season.
KKR's bowlers too have let the team down.
On the other hand, CSK bowlers, especially Dwayne Bravo, Shardul Thakur, and Deepak Chahar, were quite effective against KXIP, restricting them to under 200. Dhoni will expect something similar against KKR.
CSK's area of concern was mainly the poor start by their openers but it seems the team has finally fixed it. While du Plessis was among runs, lack of support hurt the side. Watson, however, has regained touch and the duo needs to start from where they left against KXIP.
In the middle-order, Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, and Bravo provide stability to the side besides possessing big-hitting abilities. But Kedar Jadhav is yet to click and has been heavily criticised after managing 51 from five games this season.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Shubman Gill, Sunil Narine, Nitish Rana, Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik(w/c), Eoin Morgan, Pat Cummins, Rahul Tripathi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarthy, Kuldeep Yadav, Sandeep Warrier, Siddhesh Lad, Nikhil Naik, Chris Green, Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson, Rinku Singh, Tom Banton, Manimaran Siddharth
Chennai Super Kings: Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni(w/c), Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Sam Curran, Shardul Thakur, Piyush Chawla, Deepak Chahar, Murali Vijay, Lungi Ngidi, Imran Tahir, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Santner, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore, N Jagadeesan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, KM Asif, Monu Kumar, Karn Sharma
Starting XI Prediction:
Kolkata Knight Riders: Shubman Gill, Sunil Narine, Nitish Rana, Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik (C & Wk), Eoin Morgan, Pat Cummins, Rahul Tripathi, Shivam Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Varun Chakravarthy
Chennai Super Kings: Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (C & Wk), Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Sam Curran, Shardul Thakur, Piyush Chawla, Deepak Chahar
Kolkata Knight Riders vs Chennai Super Kings Dream 11 Picks:
Shubman Gill, Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (C & Wk), Eoin Morgan, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Shivam Mavi, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar