53rd Match – Punjab v Chennai
Sat, 16 May 2015 at 16:00 local | 10:30 GMT
Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, Mohali, Chandigarh
The Royal Challengers Bangalore’s (RCB) loss against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) meant that the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) became the first team to qualify for the play-offs for this edition’s Indian Premier League (IPL).
However, with KXIP getting back to winning ways and CSK faltering against the Delhi Daredevils (DD), there will be much to play for in this encounter.
CSK will be looking to get back to winning ways so as to ensure they remain in the top two positions in the points table.
With Brendon McCullum departing for national duty before the play-offs, they will be keen to send him off with a victory.
Batting still remains their Achilles' Heel as the likes of Suresh Raina and Faf du Plessis haven’t quite fired in the manner in which they are expected to.
Raina in particular needs to turn his form around if Chennai are to pose a threat in their upcoming fixtures. He hasn’t had a single IPL season where he has not scored more than 400 runs and with a maximum of four matches to play this season, Raina needs at least 120 runs more to reach that landmark.
Even Dwayne Smith has struggled to match the consistency he had at the start of the tournament and has managed to score only 72 runs from his last six innings.
CSK also look a bit light with regards to their bench strength as there aren’t any recognized Indian batsmen on their bench apart from Mithun Manhas.
They might just consider bringing in Michael Hussey a game early to get him some match practice in order to ensure that he doesn’t feel out of place when he replaces McCullum during the playoffs.
The fact that they recorded the third lowest power play score ever in the IPL in their last match will be a worrying thing for CSK given the fact that they are known for their belligerent opening partnership.
At a stage where all teams are looking to lift their game, CSK appear to be falling apart somewhat. Three losses from their last five games show that they have lost their invincibility and KXIP will certainly fancy their chances against them.
Kings XI have been resurgent of late, narrowly losing two games before upsetting RCB by 22 runs in a rain-curtailed fixture.
With a play-off spot out of reach, they seem to be enjoying their game and will be looking forward to spoiling Chennai’s party.
Akshar Patel was brilliant against RCB where he scored a quickfire 20 towards the end to give his team much-needed impetus and provide them with a challenging total. Thereafter he returned with the ball to pick up two wickets for just 11 runs from his two overs when the original asking rate was above 10 runs per over.
Wriddhiman Saha, who was promoted to open the innings in place of Murali Vijay, took on Mitchell Starc and scored a rapid 12-ball 31 to set the tone for the Kings XI early on.
The decision to play Beuran Hendricks seems to have paid off as well as he along with Akshar went for just 20 runs from their four overs combined and shared three wickets between them.
In what is going to be their last match of the season, the Kings XI will be looking forward to a Maxwell special to ensure that they give their home crowd something to smile about in an otherwise disappointing season.
The Super Kings on the other hand will be looking to re-establish their superiority and get back to their groove.
KXI – W-L-L-L-L
CSK – L-W-L-W-L
Kings XI Punjab
1 Wriddhiman Saha (c), 2 Manan Vohra, 3 Glenn Maxwell, 4 David Miller, 5 George Bailey (c), 6 Gurkeerat Singh, 7 Akshar Patel, 8 Beuran Hendricks, 9 Rishi Dhawan, 10 Anureet Singh, 11 Sandeep Sharma
KXIP might go in with an unchanged eleven.
Chennai Super Kings
1 Brendon McCullum, 2 Michael Hussey/Dwayne Smith, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Faf du Plessis, 5 Dwayne Bravo, 6 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c & wk), 7 Pawan Negi, 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 Ravichandran Ashwin, 10 Mohit Sharma, 11 Ishwar Pandey
Chennai might consider giving Mike Hussey a game in place of Dwayne Smith just to get him acclimatized to the conditions prior to the play-offs.
© Cricket World 2015