Kolkata – Keyed up after an emphatic win over table toppers Delhi Daredevils, title holders Chennai Super kings need to maintain the momentum to stay afloat for the play-off by putting it across the formidable Kolkata Knight Riders in what promises to be an absorbing Indian Premier League clash here Monday.
The Knight Riders, in contrast, are already through to the play-offs, but would be keen to log full points at the Eden Gardens to get back on the winning track, after their spectacular seven-game victory march was rudely halted by the Mumbai Indians Saturday. A victory would also carry the Knight Riders to the first slot.
With 15 points from 14 games, the Mahendra Sing Dhoni-led Super Kings now occupy the fourth position in the league table and would be competing with the likes of Mumbai Indians (16 from 13 games), Royal Challengers Bangalore (15 from 13 outings), Rajasthan Royals (12 from 13 ties) and Kings XI Punjab (12 from as many matches) to progress to the next stage.
Inconsistency has been the bane of the Chennai side, who have ben hovering between a superlative performance and pedestrians ones through the ongoing fifth edition of the cash-rich league.
However, good showings in the previous couple of exchanges could do wonders to the morale of a team which has the most distinguished record in the tournament having finished champions twice and losing finalists once.
Known for their late pushes, the CSK would be looking at good performances from their frontline batsmen – South African top scorer Faf du Plessis, provided he is fit after missing out two matches, and home spun heroes Dhoni and Suresh Raina besides West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo.
In bowling, Aussie pacer Ben Hilfenhaus comes into Monday’s game with back to back man of the match awards and would be a vital cog in the CSK attack. Hifenhaus’ performance against the Royal Challengers where he picked up the first three wickets inside six overs is bound to trigger some serious thinking on the part of the Knight Riders team management.
The hosts’ batting has floundered too often, particularly when skipper Gautam Gambhir, their most prolific run scorer, failed to get going.
Saturday was one such day, when Gambhir departed all too soon, and curiously enough, the Knights never went in hot pursuit of a target of 183, despite having plenty of wickets in hand. Instead, the likes of Jacques Kallis, Manoj Tiwary and even Yusuf Pathan seem more intent at going through the rituals.
However, on a slow and low Eden surface, where the ball has been turning, KKR’s Caribbean mystery spinner Sunil Narine could hold the key. With 15 wickets in his kitty, and a highly economical average, Narine has troubled almost all batsmen during the tournament, and KKR would hope for a repeat performance from him.
Bangladesh spinner Shakib Al Hasan, with ten scalps, would be another vital piece in Gambhir’s game plan.
Indo-Asian News Service