The Chennai Super Kings’ (CSK) play-offs hopes may have been dashed, but they can still afford to play party pooper in IPL 2020. They will face an inconsistent Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) team in match number 49 at Dubai on Thursday.
Unlike CSK, KKR still have a chance to qualify for the IPL 2020 playoffs as they have 12 points, having won six of their 12 matches in IPL 2020. However, it is imperative for them not to slip up in the next two games to ensure qualification for the play-offs.
CSK go into the match having pulled off an upset of sorts against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in their previous IPL 2020 encounter, beating them by a comprehensive margin of eight wickets. KKR, in contrast, went down to Kings XI Punjab without putting up much of a fight.
As KKR to look to stay alive in IPL 2020 by beating CSK, we look at three player battles to keep an eye on during Thursday’s contest.
#1. Deepak Chahar vs Nitish Rana
Even as a number of star players have let CSK down in IPL 2020, their unassuming pacer Deepak Chahar can walk away from the tournament with his head held high. Opening the bowling, he has more often than not, given the team important breakthroughs in games.
Even when he is not picking up wickets, Chahar has kept things extremely tight while bowling for CSK. In 12 IPL 2020 matches, Chahar has picked up as many wickets at a strike rate of 23 and an economy rate of 7.28.
Opening the batting in the last two matches for KKR in IPL 2020, it has been all or nothing for Nitish Rana. Putting behind the personal loss of his father-in-law, Rana posted an inspired 81 from 53 balls to rattle Delhi Capitals.
However, in the very next match, he fell on the first ball to Glenn Maxwell, trying to sweep the off-spinner. It has been that kind of a season for Rana in IPL 2020.
However, with a place in the IPL 2020 play-offs on the line, Rana will be keen to stand up for KKR. The short ball has troubled Rana in the IPL, but Delhi did not employ the tactic against him. Will Chahar take the risk against Rana with his medium pace when CSK faces KKR?
#2. Eoin Morgan vs Imran Tahir
Even as KKR’s batsmen have been inconsistent with their performances in IPL 2020, skipper Eoin Morgan has led from the front with some blazing cameos. He has often come in with the team needing quick runs from him and has delivered on multiple occasions.
With more support from the rest of the team, Kolkata might well have qualified for the play-offs by now. Morgan will have to add a few more to his tally of 335 runs from 12 matches to push his team to the play-offs.
Despite being the Purple Cap holder, Imran Tahir has only been brought into the playing eleven for the last couple of matches.
The cap on foreign players meant CSK just could not fit the gifted leg-spinner in their game plans for most of the season. Whether it was a tactical blunder on CSK’s part is debatable, but the fact is that it is too late for Tahir to have an impact on CSK’s IPL 2020 play-offs hopes.
Still, the enthusiastic veteran will be keen to make the best of what he has got. Tahir will enjoy his battle with the unconventional Morgan as it will give him a chance to showcase his artistry.
#3. Sam Curran vs Varun Chakravarthy
Young England all-rounder Sam Curran has been one of the few bright spots for CSK in IPL 2020. Shunted up and down the batting order, he has delivered in different roles, be it as an opener or as a floater in the middle-order.
Curran has made a mark with his left-arm pace bowling as well, but it is his batting that will be crucial against KKR. Displaying his clean-hitting ability, he has notched up 173 runs in 127 balls at a strike rate of 136.22. He will be keen to finish IPL 2020 on a high.
With Ruturaj Gaikwad succeeding at the top of the order in CSK's last match, Curran should continue batting in the middle-order. In CSK's embarrassing batting effort against Mumbai, he stood out with a fighting fifty.
Curran will face leggie Varun Chakravarthy, who will be on a high after being named in the Indian T20I squad for the Australia tour on the back of his performance against Delhi. Very few batsmen have managed to attack Chakravarthy successfully in IPL 2020, but Curran has the ability to trouble the bowler.Published 29 Oct 2020, 17:59 IST