IPL 2018, KXIP vs CSK: Who will win today's match between Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings
Can an injury-plagued Chennai go past former hero Ashwin's new-look Punjab?
It's been less than a week, but the Chennai Super Kings have had a quite a ride, ever since their re-entry to the IPL. Back-to-back wins in thrillers, a sad end to their home support to the season, and a spate of injuries, their stability will be hugely tested in the coming games.
Dhoni's men walk into the Kings' territory, a side currently experiencing an indifferent start - they pulverized the Delhi Daredevils in the opening game, but failed to carry on the momentum in the final overs against the Royal Challengers, stumbling over AB de Villiers' end-innings assault to win one and lose one.
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Everyone likes to add a bit of a personal battle to team games, and the same is true for this match-up as well, it is also a clash of two former IPL teammates - Ravichandran Ashwin and MS Dhoni.
Date: 15th April
Venue: Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, Mohali
Time: 2000 IST
If the Kings XI Punjab bat first:
Predicted score: 160+
There is no denying that Punjab has enough firepower on paper, but the translation from that to a huge score, in reality, requires one of the many swashbuckling stroke-makers to fire. Even if one of them has a day, a score over 170 could be achieved but given the way the line-up has crumbled, especially against RCB, it appears that the side might take some time to figure themselves out. KL Rahul is the key - the man has looked in great touch.
The Chennai side has seasoned campaigners who know how to stifle the flow of runs - the likes of Harbhajan Singh and Dwayne Bravo are adept at doing that. They could easily nip in the bud a potentially big score with their wily bowling.
They won't have the services of Lungi Ngidi, who returned home after the demise of his father.
If Chennai Super Kings bat first:
Predicted score: 155+
Coach Stephen Fleming has made no bones of the fact that the Super Kings will sorely miss the absence of Suresh Raina, who will miss the Punjab game owing to a calf problem. Add to that the absence of Kedar Jadhav, and the Chennai middle-order looks sorely depleted - crying out for help, more so because MS Dhoni has been struggling to find form. In such a scenario, the return of a fit-again Murali Vijay could hold key, depending on whether the Chennai-batsman is adept at acclimatizing to the format.
Faf du Plessis could have been a healthy addition and was deemed as being 'almost fit', but his availability is still shrouded in uncertainty. Ambati Rayudu could stay put at the top order, owing to the sparks of brilliance he has shown until now.
The Punjab bowling, carrying a new look to it, led by captain Ashwin. There's teenager Mujeeb Ur Rahman, their X-factor, who created waves by going through the impregnable defences of Virat Kohli and then there's Andrew Tye, Australia's T20 expert, who has a knack for picking up wickets in bucketloads, as well as Axar Patel - another proven T20 bowler, who can choke the batsmen with his stump to stump bowling.
While there are a lot of parallel stories running in the Chennai camp, the advantage rests slightly towards them, with the experience of its key players could come in handy against an unstable Kings XI batting, that needs to sort out itself soon. It'll depend on how the Bravos and the Dhonis step up against a line of youngsters, helped along by a few seniors, in the Punjab lineup.
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