With the onus of qualification off their back, CSK has nothing to lose, and hence their fearless brand of cricket of late.
Their playoff chances are hanging by the thinnest thread, the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) will step out to meet the knocked-out Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the Sunday doubleheader at Abu Dhabi. In what has been one of the most majestic and dramatic comebacks of all times, KXIP rose out of the dead and slammed a streak of five victories on the trot, only to lose against Rajasthan Royals in their last game and put an asterisk mark on their qualification.
However, that is what their story has been like. Only two points after seven games meant that they could barely afford a slip-up in the second half. There is nothing that KXIP could settle for but a win. However, even that would not ensure them the desired spot, and they would hope for SRH to lose against MI.
It will be curtains for them if SRH manages to win their game against MI and if the loser of Match 55 (DC vs RCB) finishes above them in the table. For now, they must be afraid of the Yellow Army, who walked all over and thrashed them by 10 wickets in their last meeting this year. On the other hand are MS Dhoni’s men, who have been reduced to party-poopers for the first time in the 13 years of the league.
CSK might not have had a tournament to remember, but they have certainly spiced up the points tally in their last two encounters. They have already dented the playoff chances of two teams – the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Royal Challengers Bangalore – and a win again will mean KXIP will be their fresh victims. With the onus of qualification off their back, CSK has nothing to lose, and hence their fearless brand of cricket of late.
However, they might think that a couple of such performances a little earlier, and the things would have been different for them! Well, in the luxury of hindsight, their think-tank can certainly deliberate and cook up some scenarios. For the time being, what CSK can ensure for itself is a consolation prize, as a win in their last fixture might evade their chances of finishing at the bottom of the tally.
Pitch and conditions
The pitch at Sheikh Zayed Stadium has very recently seen Rajasthan chase down a 185-run target with 2.3 overs to spare. With seven of the last eight encounters going to the side chasing, the captains might want to adopt the bat-first template on winning the toss. However, the story in the day games, such as this one, stands a tad different – where, in four games, thrice has the team batting first won.
Playing Combinations for CSK vs KXIP
Chennai Super Kings
The youngster Ruturaj Gaikwad has been amongst the runs for his team, and in another hindsight, the CSK think-tank might think if they missed the trick by not backing him earlier. MS Dhoni has had his worst IPL with respect to strike rate, average, and runs scored. Before he moves to a new year, he would want to give his fans something to cheer for.
The two stars for CSK – Ravindra Jadeja and Sam Curran – would want to continue in the same vein, as their team has not had too many positives. Lungi Ngidi, who got a couple of wickets on a comeback, will lead the pace attack alongside Deepak Chahar, whereas Karn Sharma and Mitchell Santner will be on their duties in the spin department.
Probable XI- Shane Watson, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (C & WK), Sam Curran, Ravindra Jadeja, Narayan Jagadeesan, Mitchell Santner, Karn Sharma, Deepak Chahar, Lungi Ngidi
Kings XI Punjab
With skipper KL Rahul, the owner of the Orange Cap currently, and the swashbuckling Chris Gayle, who missed a well-deserved century by an agonizing margin of a run in the last game, coming good for the team, KXIP would back itself to get back to winning ways. Nicholas Pooran has continued to impress through his crucial knocks at No, 4, however, Glenn Maxwell has been a disappointment with the bat. It remains to be seen if Mayank Agarwal returns to the side.
KXIP’s bowling has improved considerably in the second half of the tournament, and that has reflected in their results as well. However, in the last game, the bowlers lacked discipline and got the treatment. Spinners M Ashwin and Ravi Bishnoi have been economical, even though they do not have as many wickets to show. Mohammed Shami will lead the attack alongside Chris Jordan and Arshdeep Singh.
Probable XI- KL Rahul (C & WK), Mandeep Singh, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Glenn Maxwell, Deepak Hooda, Chris Jordan, Murugan Ashwin, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh
CSK vs KXIP Head to Head
Played- 23 | CSK won- 14 | KXIP won- 9 | NR- 0
Match Timings- 3:30 PM (IST), 2:00 PM (Local).
TV– Star Sports 1, Star Sports 2, Star Sports 1 Hindi
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