Preview: MS Dhoni, Ravichandran Ashwin Battle In Focus As CSK Host KXIP
Both Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab have six points from four matches and a win on Saturday will propel them to the top of the IPL table.
The leadership styles of Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni and Kings XI Punjab captain Ravichandran Ashwin will be in focus when the two teams lock horns for the 18th match of IPL 2019 at the Chepauk on Saturday. Dhoni's ability to stay calm versus Ashwin's out-of-the-box decisions will make for an interesting contest. CSK enjoy an 11-8 advantage over KXIP in the head-to-head record. Both teams currently have six points from four matches and a win on Saturday will propel them to the top of the table.
Defending champions CSK suffered their first defeat at the hands of Mumbai Indians in their last match after three straight wins, and they would hoping to get back to winning ways as they return to their den.
The two previous matches at the MA Chidambaram Stadium have produced contrasting performances. While Royal Challengers Bangalore were shot out for 70, Rajasthan Royals made CSK sweat before going down by eight runs on a better surface for the batters.
The spin-heavy CSK will now be up against KXIP, which also have quality spinners in their line-up, with Ashwin himself at the forefront, apart from Mujeeb ur Rahman, leggie M Ashwin and mystery bowler CV Varun. The home team's bowlers will be wary of Chris Gayle's power-hitting provided he plays after missing the game against Delhi Capitals on April 1.
With Gayle sitting out in their last match, KXIP showed it is not about the hard-hitting West Indian alone as KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal put their hands up. And Punjab would hope that they continue to shine.
CSK has relied on team effort to win their matches as different players have delivered the goods in the IPL so far. The only worry would be the form of opener Ambati Rayudu, who has struggled to get going after last year's success, perhaps creating a chance for Murali Vijay at the top.
There is uncertainty over the availability of star all-rounder Dwayne Bravo for tomorrow's game after he suffered a hamstring injury against Mumbai. His absence could open up a spot for the New Zealand pacer Scott Kuggeleijn.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (capt), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Murali Vijay, Kedar Jadhav, Sam Billings, Ravindra Jadeja, Dhruv Shorey, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Rituraj Gaikwad, Dwayne Bravo, Karn Sharma, Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Santner, Shardul Thakur, Mohit Sharma, K M Asif, Deepak Chahar, N Jagadeesan, Scott Kuggeleign.
Kings XI Punjab: Ravichandran Ashwin (capt), Chris Gayle, Lokesh Rahul, Mohammed Shami, Mayank Agrawal, Karun Nair, Mujeeb ur Rahman, David Miller, Sam Curran, Varun Chakaravarthy, Nicholas Pooran, Moises Henriques, Hardus Viljoen, Darshan Nalkande, Sarfaraz Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Agnivesh Ayachi, Harpreet Brar, Murugan Ashwin, Andrew Tye, Ankit Rajpoot, Mandeep Singh, Simran Singh.
Match starts at 4 pm IST
(With inputs from PTI)