Chennai: Chennai Super Kings will head into the IPL match against Punjab Kings as favourites with spin bowlers expected to play a huge role in the home side’s scheme of things, here on Sunday.
Both teams head into the game on the back of defeats in their previous matches. While CSK fell short by 32 runs against Rajasthan Royals, PBKS lost to Lucknow Super Giants by 56 runs.
CSK, however, will be happy to return to home comforts, where spin is king and their shrewd captain M S Dhoni will look to strangle the PBKS batters.
A high-flying CSK was ambushed in Jaipur as the batters came up short, chasing 203 for victory against the Royals.
The CSK batting unit, which has been performing, couldn’t quite get going against RR. Opener Devon Conway, who has been in top form, faltered.
Apart from Conway, opener Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ajinkya Rahane have been the key batters for CSK, while Shivam Dube has shown he is capable of scoring quick runs.
Ravindra Jadeja’s lack of runs would be a worry for the CSK think-tank but the all-rounder more than makes up for it with his splendid bowling and fielding.
All eyes will be on Dhoni, who is seemingly on a farewell run and the crowd would be delighted if the talismanic skipper faces even a few deliveries.
Dhoni turned to his spinners when the Royals were on rampage and Maheesh Theekshana and Ravindra Jadeja were immediately able to stem the flow of runs.
Come Sunday, the skipper will once again rely on his spinners to turn the ball and bamboozle the opposition. CSK is likely continue with its three-pronged spin attack of Jadeja, Theekshana and Moeen Ali.
In the pace department, Tushar Deshpande with 14 wickets, albeit at an economy rate of 12.57, has put his hand up in the absence of an injured Deepak Chahar and will look to put his best forward while young Aksah Singh and Matheesha Pathirana will look for an improved show.
CSK is not a team which makes too many changes and it is likely that England’s Test captain Ben Stokes, who has recovered from injury which has kept him out for some games, would be benched again.
Punjab Kings, on the other hand, have struggled for consistency and the return of skipper Shikhar Dhawan did not help the team’s cause on Friday.
Up against a daunting target, the PBKS batters scored at a decent pace and did their best to reach 200 but couldn’t take the side over the line. They will have their task cut out against the spin-heavy CSK.
The top-order comprising Dhawan, Prabhsimran Singh and Atharva Taide needs to get going while Liam Livingstone is yet to come into his own and get a big score.
Sam Curran led the way against Mumbai Indians and his contribution with both bat and ball holds the key for the team.
Pacers Arshdeep Singh and Kagiso Rabada, who were taken to the cleaners by LSG batters, will have to regroup quickly.
Leg-spinner Rahul Chahar’s spell in the middle overs would also be crucial on a Chennai track which is usually slow and low.
Teams (from): Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain & wk), Devon Conway, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ambati Rayudu, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Ravindra Jadeja, Ajinkya Rahane, Sisanda Magala, Shivam Dube, Dwaine Pretorius, Ahay Mandal, Nishant Sindhu, Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Mitchell Santner, Subharnshu Senapati, Simarjeet Singh, Matheesa Pathirana, Mahesh Theekshana, Bhagath Verma, Prashant Solanki, Shaikh Rasheed, Tushar Deshpande.
Punjab Kings: Shikhar Dhawan (captain), Arshdeep Singh, Baltej Singh, Rahul Chahar, Sam Curran, Rishi Dhawan, Nathan Ellis, Gurnoor Brar, Harpreet Brar, Harpreet Singh, Vidwath Kaverappa, Liam Livingstone, Mohit Rathee, Prabhsimran Singh, Kagiso Rabada, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, M Shahrukh Khan, Jitesh Sharma (wk), Shivam Singh, Matthew Short, Sikandar Raza, Atharva Taide.
(Match starts at 3.30 PM).