There are three things certain in life: death, taxes and Chennai Super Kings winning matches in the IPL. Today, the Kolkata Knight Riders will be trying to delay at least one of those certainties, as they host the three-time champions at the Eden Gardens.
Despite a strong start in IPL 2019, KKR have faltered in recent outings. Dinesh Karthik’s men currently sit on a two-game losing run. They were outclassed by the Super Kings at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on March 4, followed by a seven-wicket defeat to Delhi Capitals at home.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men have a knack of turning around matches from precarious situations. Case in point their last-gasp win over the Rajasthan Royals this past Thursday. Mitchell Santner became the unlikeliest of heroes when he smashed a last-ball six off Ben Stokes to win it for CSK.
Chennai, who currently sit comfortably on top of the table, will be looking to do the double over KKR today. Dhoni’s men have only lost one game so far in the tournament and are showing no signs of stopping.
In their previous matchup, Chennai’s bowlers took center-stage as they restricted KKR to a measly total of 108/9. Deepak Chahar, in particular, was instrumental as he posted figures of 3/20 off four overs that helped in outfoxing KKR’s formidable batting lineup. Faf du Plessis’ innings of 43* from 45 balls saw Chennai outlast the Knight Riders and win the match by seven wickets.
For Kolkata, things seem to be getting bad from worse as Andre Russell is doubtful for this one. The all-rounder aggravated a wrist injury in the loss to Delhi. In fact, he did not even complete his quota of four overs in the match and was absent from the post-game ceremony as well. KKR, however, will take solace in the fact that Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine will be back and hope they can offset the unavailability of Russell.
Predicted Line-Up (KKR)
Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (C & WK), Shubman Gill, Carlos Brathwaite, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Harry Gurney
Predicted Line-Up (CSK)
Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (C & WK), Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Mitchell Santner, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Imran Tahir
Kuldeep Yadav vs Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Captain Cool’s batting form in the IPL reflects his last-over shenanigans from the win against Rajasthan – it’s red hot. The Super Kings captain is smashing bowlers left, right and center, having scored 214 runs in seven games so far.
More often than not, Dhoni has bailed out the Super Kings when their top-order has not been up to scratch. Take his partnership with Rayudu in the previous game or his fabulous knock of 75* off 46 balls vs Rajasthan on April 1. Dhoni has been the X-Factor for Chennai and is posting a biblical average of 107 in IPL 2019, along with a solid strike-rate of 127.38.
KKR are having issues with one bowler consistently picking up wickets, as evidenced by the fact that no KKR player is in the Top 10 for the Purple Cap. The absence of a reliable strike bowler will put the onus on Kuldeep Yadav to work his magic today.
Yadav has picked up three wickets in seven outings so far – a paltry return, to say the least. Still, he possesses an array of variations that can bamboozle batsmen which makes him a tricky bowler to play against. Despite a lack of wickets, Yadav has maintained a strong economy rate (by T20 standards) of 7.65. This makes him the perfect candidate to limit what is a stacked CSK batting lineup.
Shubman Gill vs Deepak Chahar
KKR’s recent loss of form can be attributed to over-reliance on Andre Russell. With the big-hitter’s availability in question, Shubman Gill will be in the crosshair once again. The former India U-19 vice-captain played his best IPL innings yet in KKR’s loss to DC.
Playing as an opener against DC, Gill smashed a career-best 65 off 39 deliveries and helped steer KKR to a total of 178. Gill displayed some aesthetically pleasing stroke play, stacking up seven fours and two sixes in the innings. It would be prudent for KKR to advance him up the order in place of Nitish Rana, who has been struggling in recent games.
Deepak Chahar, meanwhile, will be looking for a repeat performance with the ball. His miserly spell saw him only conceding 20 runs in the last match against KKR. In fact, Chahar set an IPL record in that match by bowling 20 dot balls. To know about more such records, play quizzes on the Indian T20 league in the SportsQwizz app.
Chahar has the ability to restrict batsmen and take advantage of their desperation to score in the T20 format. KKR’s batsmen will have to systematically out-duel Chahar. Batting second will definitely help considering the dew factor that has been a major part of IPL 2019.
CSK is easily the most well-balanced side in the IPL. Six wins out of seven attests to that.
Looking at the form of CSK’s batsmen and bowlers, it is hard to bet against them despite this match being at KKR’s home. Furthermore, the possible absence of Andre Russell will make it harder for the Knight Riders to get the better of MSD’s cohorts.
A 185-190 total will be a defendable one, despite Eden Gardens being spin-friendly. Looking at the personnel involved, Team Cricwizz believes that CSK stand the best chance of both defending or chasing. Thus, we’re casting our vote for the Super Kings to do the double on the Knight Riders today.