IPL 2018 preview: Ravi Ashwin has a point to prove against Chennai Super Kings

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Punjab captain Ashwin was unhappy at not being signed up by Chennai. Image: BCCI.

Chennai Super Kings will see one of their star performers over the years in the opposition camp when they travel to Mohali to play Kings XI Punjab on Sunday.

Kings XI are being led by spinner Ravi Ashwin, who had earlier expressed his disappointment at not being signed up by his city’s franchise.

Chennai enter the match high on confidence, having won their opening encounter by one wicket against Mumbai Indians followed by victory over Kolkata Knight Riders by five wickets chasing 203.

TALKING POINTS

Injuries are piling up for Chennai Super Kings. Suresh Raina (calf injury) and Kedar Jadhav (hamstring) have been benched and that has put their middle order under pressure. Sam Billings was the star during their chase of 203 against Kolkata but dwindling batting resources will start to take its toll.

Punjab will be relying on their spin twins – Ashwin and Afghanistan’s Mujeeb Ur Rahman – to keep the Chennai batsmen quiet. In the match against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Punjab started off with three spinners and they might be inclined to continue with that strategy in the absence of out-and-out pace bowlers.

PLAYERS IN FOCUS

Punjab opener KL Rahul has been in particularly aggressive mode in this year’s IPL. His opening two knocks – 51 off 16 and 47 off 30 – show that he wants to prove to the Indian team management that he deserves to bat up the order in limited-overs cricket.

Chennai captain MS Dhoni struggled in the high-scoring match against Kolkata. The skipper crawled to 25 from 28 balls while everyone else batted at well over a run a ball. If he fails again and Chennai lose, questions will be raised about his batting.

LIKELY LINE-UPS

Kings XI Punjab: KL Rahul (wk), Mayank Agarwal, David Miller, Yuvraj Singh, Karun Nair, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, Ravi Ashwin (c), Andrew Tye, Mohit Sharma, Mujeeb Ur Rahman

Chennai Super Kings: Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Murali Vijay, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Sam Billings, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Deepak Chahar, Harbhajan Singh, Shardul Thakur, Imran Tahir

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Kolkata Knight Riders pacer Kamlesh Nagarkoti injured as IPL fast-bowling reserves plummet

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India's U19 World Cup star Nagarkoti has been ruled out of IPL 2018. Image: KKR/Twitter.

India’s Under-19 fast bowler Kamlesh Nagarkoti was ruled out of the IPL following a foot injury. The Kolkata Knight Riders bowler had picked up the niggle before the start of the tournament and was being monitored by the Knight Riders.

They had a replacement ready in the form of Karnataka fast bowler Prasidh Krishna in case Nagarkoti’s injury turned out be serious. On Saturday, it was confirmed Nagarkoti will miss the IPL, which is a big blow to the star bowler of India’s victorious U-19 World Cup campaign.

Nagarkoti made waves after being consistently clocked at over 145kph during the tournament. The IPL was his big opportunity to grab the attention of senior team selectors but that won’t happen now.

The 18-year-old has joined a long list of genuine fast bowlers who are not taking part in the 11th edition of the IPL.

MITCHELL STARC (LEG)

The Kolkata Knight Riders quick was supposed to be the leader of the pack as the Eden Gardens has become conducive to pace bowling. But the Aussie quick pulled out of the tournament due to a stress fracture in his right leg.

PAT CUMMINS (BACK)

The Aussie quick seemed to have put his injury scares behind him by playing 13 consecutive Tests. Bowling at his absolute best, Cummins was set for a bumper IPL for Mumbai Indians but swelling in his vertebrae ended his IPL dreams.

KAGISO RABADA (BACK)

The South African quick was another pacer expected to set the stage on fire in IPL 2018. But the Delhi Daredevils never arrived, pulling out of the tournament due to a ‘lower back stress reaction’.

NATHAN COULTER-NILE (BACK)

The Aussie quick, picked up by Royal Challengers Bangalore, failed to recover from a stress fracture to his back and hasn’t played any competitive cricket since November.

LUNGI NGIDI (BEREAVEMENT)

The South Africa pacer, playing for Chennai Super Kings, left the country on Saturday following the death of his father. Ngidi’s father Jerome had watched his son make waves in the Tests against India and Australia.

JASON BEHRENDORFF (BACK)

Mumbai Indians had put a lot of faith in the Australian pacer but Behrendorff failed to recover from a serious back injury and was ruled out of IPL 2018.

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IPL 2018: Delhi Daredevils opener Jason Roy hits 91 as Mumbai Indians lose another final-over thriller

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Roy hit an unbeaten 91 for the Daredevils. Image: BCCI

Delhi Daredevils opener Jason Roy made a blistering start to his 2018 IPL campaign by hitting an unbeaten 91 on Saturday as Mumbai Indians once against lost a last-over thriller, this time by seven wickets with no balls to spare.

The Mumbai Indians hit top gear in the powerplay batting first, racing to 100 without loss in the ninth over. But the Daredevils hit back at the death, taking five wickets in the last five overs for just 36 runs as the hosts posted 194-7.

In reply, Englishman Roy took it upon himself to get the job done as he scored almost half of the team’s runs. His 53-ball knock included six hits to the fence and as many over it and despite facing three dot balls in a tense final over bowled by Mustafizur Rahman, Roy took Delhi past the finish line.

It was the third straight defeat in the final over for defending champions Mumbai. They lost the first two matches of the campaign by one wicket – with one and zero balls to spare – and on Saturday they lost the match off the final ball.

BLISTERING START

It was a new opening combination for Mumbai Indians with captain Rohit Sharma moving to the middle order. Evin Lewis (48 off 28 balls) and Suryakumar Yadav (53 off 32 balls) added 102 inside nine overs for the opening wicket. Both looked equally at ease against spin and pace on a true Wankhede wicket. They were also helped by the fact that the Daredevils bowling attack only had two prominent names in Trent Boult and Mohammed Shami.

DELHI PULL THINGS BACK

At 158-2 after 15 overs and with captain Rohit at the crease, a total of 200 seemed to be there for the taking. However, Daredevils pacer Dan Christian took the wickets of Ishan Kishan (44) and Kieron Pollard (0) off successive balls to stem the run flow. In the last 27 balls of the innings, Mumbai made just 28 runs and lost five wickets.

JASON TEES OFF

With Colin Munro struggling, the Daredevils went for Roy and the Englishman took the Wankhede by storm. While fellow opener and captain Gautam Gambhir moved along at barely run a ball, Roy went after Mumbai bowlers. He targeted seam and spin with equal disdain during his 91, ensuring he will be the first name to be picked in the Delhi squad from here on.

Roy was matched shot for shot by wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant (47 off 25 balls) who played an authoritative innings, something he hasn’t managed regularly for some time.

ROY FINISHES THE GAME

Mumbai Indians, as has become the norm, fought back and took the game to the final over. Two fine catches in the deep – Pollard off Krunal Pandya at long off to dismiss Pant and Hardik Pandya off Krunal at extra cover to see the back of Glenn Maxwell (13) – put the pressure back on Daredevils.

Shreyas Iyer (27 off 20 balls) kept the tempo up after being helped by two dropped catches by Rahman at short third man in the 17th over. But a fine penultimate over by Jasprit Bumrah – where he gave away just five runs – meant Delhi needed 11 from the final over by Rahman.

Roy hit the first two balls for a four and a six but the Bangladesh seamer fought back by bowling three consecutive off cutters that beat the bat. With one needed off the last ball, Roy finally connected and the ball sailed over the infield as the Daredevils scampered home to victory.

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