A loss to the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the previous game comes as a minor setback for Kings XI Punjab, who’ll return to Mohali in the hope of restoring the brightness with which they began their Indian Premier League 2018 campaign. A disciplined performance with the ball and the quickest half-century in the IPL, by KL Rahul, helped them hit the straps straightaway in their opening game, at home, against Delhi Daredevils. But in the trip back from Bengaluru, they are carrying with them the added baggage of a loss – the primary reason for which was a below-par performance by the middle order – which they will be hoping to shed quickly and continue their journey forward. A victory in their next game would benefit KXIP’s quest to forge a new identity, and also serve as a centrifugal signal that captain R Ashwin has left his Chennai Super Kings identity behind him.
Kings XI are up against a CSK team which is entering this contest on the back of two wins, albeit close ones at that, but is also feeling the weight of outside factors weighing it down. The non-availability of certain players due to varied reasons prompted a remark from skipper Dhoni, who said: “Every game one player is getting injured. By that calculation we will not have 14 players at the end of the league”, soon after the match against Kolkata Knight Riders. Adding to an ever-growing list of uncontrollables, Super Kings also have to contend with the fact that they no longer can turn to the comforts of the Chepauk for the remainder of this season. But an away game in Mohali will keep their minds occupied for the immediate future.
What would give them confidence is that they pulled-off victories with a delivery to spare in two high-pressure matches, and did so by overcoming the odds that were stacked against them at different stages. Apart from riding on individual brilliance – Dawyne Bravo’s all-round show against Mumbai Indians and Sam Billings’s fiery knock against KKR – CSK also had experience of like Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu putting their hands up. The bowlers were under the pump in the previous game but that was on a track that offered them little and CSK would rather dwell on the better bowling performance against MI.
Meanwhile, KXIP will be banking on Rahul for yet another good start but they will also be wary of what happened in the previous game when things went went pear shaped in a matter of one over. A middle-order collapse would serve as a reality check for the Ashwin-led side. Apart from Rahul, the batting of Karun Nair and Ashwin himself emerged as positives for the team but these efforts did little to mitigate the damage that was done in between. Yuvraj Singh’s form remains a concern for the team while Mayank Agarwal hasn’t been able to replicate his tremendous domestic success. While it’s too early in the season for KXIP to be happy with their combination, they would want their Indian batting investments to provide returns sooner than later.
Kings XI have been well-served by the spin duo of Ashwin and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who have picked up key wickets and have also helped in the containment bit. However, the 17-year-old from Afghanistan also received first-hand knowledge of how ruthless the IPL can be, with AB de Villiers’s powerful hitting serving as a lesson. Andrew Tye and Axar Patel blew cold in the opening game but managed to make up with economical performances soon after, which holds the bowling department in good stead. They will, though, be worried about Mohit Sharma, who after going in excess of eight an over against Daredevils, ended up conceding 45 in the last game.
When: Sunday, April 15 at 8:00 PM IST
Where: Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, Mohali
What to expect: During the game against Daredevils, a slightly sluggish wicket was on offer which put impetus on capitalising on the new ball. However, that was a late afternoon game and it remains to be seen how the pitch behaves during the night, with the dew factor also likely to come into play.
Head to Head: KXIP 6 – 10 CSK; In Mohali – KXIP 1 – 3 CSK
Kings XI Punjab: Having just completed the match against Royal Challengers, Saturday was a travel day for the Kings XI team and a three-hour flight from Bengaluru to Mohali might have kept the think-tank engaged in some ‘hypothetical’ deliberations. Will Yuvraj get a longer rope, especially with Manoj Tiwary in the waiting? Marcus Stoinis or David Miller? Would Aaron Finch be better off in the opening slot or how about bringing in Chris Gayle? Is Ankit Rajpoot an option in place of Mohit? While all these remain options, Kings XI may go in with an unchanged eleven for one more game before contemplating if there’s a need for a different sketch.
Probable XI: KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Aaron Finch, Yuvraj Singh, Karun Nair, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Andrew Tye, Mohit Sharma, Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Chennai Super Kings: Kedar Jadhav is no longer available for CSK for the remainder of the season after having suffered a hamstring injury. Suresh Raina is set to miss the next game and maybe the one after that as well due to a calf injury. Faf du Plessis too is still on the road to recovery, while his South Africa teammate Lungi Ngidi has flown back to South Africa following the demise of his father. Meanwhile, they would be buoyed with the improved fitness levels of Murali Vijay, who might feature in the eleven as a replacement for Raina. Another option is Dhruv Shorey, who coach Stephen Fleming also spoke about. But the inclusion of either Vijay or Shorey would mean that Watson-Rayudu partnership, which has looked promising, might have to be dissolved for the moment. Yorkshire all-rounder David Willey, roped in as a replacement for Jadhav, has also joined the team but he’s unlikely to be slotted in immediately.
Probable XI: Shane Watson, Murali Vijay, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (c), Sam Billings, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Deepak Chahar, Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir, Shardul Thakur.
Rayudu vs Mohit: Mohit has dismissed Rayudu on five occasions, conceding 46 runs from the 37 balls he’s bowled to him.
Harbhajan vs Karun: Karun has been dismissed by Harbhajan four times in 21 balls while managing only 20 runs.
Ashwin vs CSK openers: Ashwin has had contrasting fortunes against CSK’s openers – he has dismissed Rayudu thrice in 34 balls while Watson has scored 44 off 30 balls without getting dismissed (since IPL 2013).
What they said:
“[Ambati] Rayudu has got experience all through the order. Someone like [Dhruv] Shorey and Murali Vijay are more suited to opening. But we’ve got to balance that in our final discussions – whether it’s worth keeping that combination together. I think there is something going well in that combination but even if it is for a couple of games, it might be that we can make a change and then revisit that once Suresh Raina comes back,” Stephen Fleming, CSK’s coach, reckons a change in the batting order is on the cards.
Kings XI Punjab (From): Lokesh Rahul(w), Mayank Agarwal, Aaron Finch, Yuvraj Singh, Karun Nair, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin(c), Andrew Tye, Mohit Sharma, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Chris Gayle, David Miller, Ankit Rajpoot, Manoj Tiwary, Barinder Sran, Akshdeep Nath, Ben Dwarshuis, Pardeep Sahu, Mayank Dagar, Manzoor Dar
Chennai Super Kings (From): Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni(w/c), Sam Billings, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Deepak Chahar, Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir, Shardul Thakur, Faf du Plessis, KM Asif, Kanishk Seth, Dhruv Shorey, Murali Vijay, Mark Wood, Kshitiz Sharma, Monu Kumar, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Karn Sharma, N Jagadeesan, David Willey