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
Kolkata Knight Riders: 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, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni(C & Wk), Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Sam Curran, Karn Sharma, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar
The game begins!
R Tripathi and Shubman Gill are at the crease. R Tripathi is on strike. Deepak Chahar will open the attack for CSK.
Score after 5 overs: KKR (41-1)
Finally, Kolkata Knight Riders decided against sending Sunil Narine as an opener. The spinner failed to make a mark as an opening batsman in all the previous games.
The openers, especially Rahul Tripathi led Kolkata to a good start. However, Youngster Shubman Gill has been dismissed. Now, Nitish Rana and Tripathi are at the crease. With this top-order batting line-up, KKR can extend their good start to the game.
Score after 10 overs: KKR (93-2)
Kolkata's decision to let Tripathi open the batting is turning out to be a good one. The 29-year-old has completed his half-century and is currently at the crease with Sunil Narine who came in at number four after Nitish Rana's dismissal.
Score after 15 overs: KKR (128-4)
Andre Russell is at the crease and the hard-hitting batsman should help Kolkata reach a respectable target in the remaining overs. Tripathi, who opened the batting, is likely to complete his century.
The chase begins!
Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis are at the crease. Watson is on strike. Cummins will open the attack for KKR!
Score after 5 overs: CSK (41-1)
The fans won't be able to witness a spectacular opening partnership between Watson and du Plessis today as the latter was dismissed early on. But, no worries for Chennai as Watson is continuing his form from the last game. Ambati Rayudu shares the crease with the Australian.
Score after 10 overs: CSK (90-1)
At this stage, Kolkata had scored 93 runs with the loss of 3 wickets. Chennai, meanwhile, is witnessing a solid partnership between Watson and Rayudu.
In their last game, Chennai were victorious by 10 wickets as Watson and du Plessis successfully completed the 178-run chase against Punjab.
If this continues, another impeccable victory is on the cards for Dhoni and Co.
Score after 15 overs: CSK (110-3)
Quick fall of wickets for Chennai as both Rayudu and Watson have been dismissed. Thala is out on the field along with Sam Curran. Things are looking a bit dicey for Chennai as Kolkata bowlers are starting to pick up wickets.
Kolkata Knight Riders defeat Chennai Super Kings by 10 runs!
Well that came out of the syllabus for Chennai. A bowling line-up that contained Chennai's batting prowess. Due credit must be given to Kolkata skipper Dinesh Karthik for his brilliant captaincy, and of course the bowlers who did the brilliant job, specially after the Watson-Rayudu partnership ended.
Skipper Dhoni admitted that the bowlers, who did a great job, were down by the batsmen in today's game. "In the middle overs there was a phase where they bowled 2-3 good overs. If we batted better, and didn't lose 2-3 wickets in a row. We should've been careful in the first 5-6 overs," he said. "I think we did well in general with the ball, but the batsmen let the bowlers down today."
Kolkata skipper Karthik, meanwhile, believes his side's batsmen are very fluid. "Our batting is very fluid. I started at three, today I batted at seven. The way those guys batted at the start, they batted very well. Back end I've a lot of trust in Sunil and Varun, paid off," he said, adding praise for Rahul Tripathi who script 81 runs in 51 balls for Kolkata.
Tripathi opened for Kolkata in today's game, replacing flop opener Narine who put up poor performances in all the previous games. "Something like a dream come true for me. Was prepared for both the roles. Thought the ball was coming nicely, so I thought we should keep up the scoreboard which is why those shots came out, nothing special. It's a journey. Have loved this journey. Coming to KKR is special. Performing in front of Shahrukh sir is very special. It's a dream come true," Tripathi said.