Kolkata Knight Riders, who have had a topsy-turvy journey in IPL 2020, will take on a resurrected Chennai Super Kings in match number 21 at Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
KKR go into the match having succumbed to the Delhi Capitals by 18 runs in their previous encounter despite a late fight back. CSK, in contrast, registered a thumping 10-wicket triumph over Kings XI Punjab.
With four points each, KKR and CSK find themselves jostling for spots in the middle of the points table. They will be keen to display better consistency going forward. Neither side has managed to figure out their most effective team combinations so far, which has hampered their consistency.
In the head-to-head record, CSK have a slight advantage over KKR, with 14 wins and eight losses. One match produced no result. As Chennai and Kolkata get into battle mode, we look at three player battles that could affect the result.
1. Shane Watson vs Pat Cummins
After struggling for rhythm in the first few matches, CSK opener Shane Watson roared back to form with a typically dominating innings against Kings XI Punjab. He scored a whirlwind 83* off 53 balls in an innings featuring 11 fours and three sixes.
Watson was aided by the fact that Chennai did not have a big score to chase. The veteran batsman, though, deserves credit for hanging in there and playing himself back to form. He will be viewed as a danger-man as far as KKR are concerned.
KKR paceman Pat Cummins has had a poor run in IPL 2020 so far. In four matches, he has only managed two wickets at an average of 65 and a strike rate of 42. While he has bowled with good pace, Cummins hasn’t found the consistency of Jofra Archer or Kagiso Rabada.
He was impressive against SRH bowling 1/19 and against Rajasthan bowling 1/13. KKR won both those matches. If Cummins can get rid of Watson early, it will be a massive boost for KKR as Chennai tend to struggle when Watson's wicket falls early.
2. Eoin Morgan vs Piyush Chawla
England skipper Eoin Morgan is finally performing to his potential in the IPL. He has been part of the league for quite a few years but hasn’t had a consistent run in the tournament. To be fair to him, he hadn’t gotten enough opportunities to prove his worth.
Returning to the tournament as a World Cup-winning captain, Morgan was given his rightful place in the KKR middle order, and he hasn’t disappointed. In four matches, Morgan has smashed 136 runs at a strike rate of 151.11, hitting 10 sixes.
Even though KKR went down to Delhi, Morgan became the first batsman to successfully go after Kagiso Rabada with a flurry of big hits.
Morgan is one of the better players of spin in the KKR line-up and he will be expected to tackle leg-spinner Piyush Chawla in an effective manner. Things will be easier for Morgan against Chawla as the ball will be spinning into him.
However, with his experience and variations, the veteran spinner will be confident of giving Morgan a tough battle. Chawla has six wickets in five matches to his name at a strike rate of 17.00. Morgan has the upper hand in this battle, so Chawla will have to produce something special to outwit him.
3. Shubman Gill vs Deepak Chahar
While Sunil Narine has struggled for runs at the top of the order, KKR seem to have found at least one reliable opener in young Shubman Gill. After failing in the team’s opening game against the Mumbai Indians, he has consistently delivered for the team.
Gill scored an unbeaten 70 in the successful chase against Sunrisers and has followed it up with 47 runs and 28 runs in the last two games. Gill has displayed a compact technique to deal with the pacers in the power-plays, which has been one of the keys to his success.
Like Gill for KKR, Deepak Chahar has been a consistent performer for CSK with the ball. He has run in and maintained a tight line and length, keeping the opposition batsmen on their toes. Chahar has five wickets in as many matches at a strike rate of 22.80 and an economy of under 8.
He has been unlucky as quite a few catches have been dropped off his bowling. His contest with Gill at the start of the innings will be a case of who blinks first as both seem to take a lot of pride in their respective performances.Published 07 Oct 2020, 14:58 IST