MS Dhoni and his Chennai side started the campaign with three successive victories but their unbeaten run was finally brought to an end by three-time champions Mumbai Indians who emerged victorious by 37 runs at the Wankhede Stadium.
MISFIRING CHENNAI OPENERS
As they bid to bounce back from their first defeat of the tournament, Chennai will look towards their openers Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu to give a much better account of themselves after what has been an ordinary campaign so far for the two batsmen.
Together, the pair contributed 1,157 runs between themselves in Chennai’s title-winning campaign in 2018 but they have fallen short of those lofty standards by some distance in 2019 with less than 100 runs between them in four matches.
The failure of the openers to fire has seen the burden of run-scoring fall upon a formidable middle-order comprising of Suresh Raina, Kedar Jadhav and Dhoni who have stood up to the task well but their luck finally ran out in Mumbai on a slow deck.
With a squad littered with veteran campaigners, Chennai have made their experience count at the crucial junctures more oftenbut one man in particular has been on song throughout the campaign.
South Africa leg-spinner Imran Tahir has been leading Chennai’s charge with the ball this season with the veteran already picking up seven wickets in his four appearances. With the pitch at the Chepauk aiding spinners greatly in the two previous matches, Tahir can once again be expected to thrive.
The Proteas veteran’s battle against his Kings XI counterpart Ravichandran Ashwin will be an intriguing one with the latter set to return to his old stomping ground at Chennai.
KXIP STARTING TO CLICK INTO GEAR
While Ashwin has been among the controversies with his Mankad dismissal of Jos Buttler, the off-spinner has led Kings XI superbly with his side racking up three wins in their four matches.
Things are starting to look good for the Mohali-based franchise with all the elements starting to fall into place. An already formidable opening pairing of Chris Gayle and KL Rahul has been bolstered by a much stronger middle-order compared to last season with Sarfaraz Khan, Mayank Agarwal and David Miller all clicking into form.
England all-rounder Sam Curran too has truly arrived at the IPL after a disastrous start with the youngster claiming a sensational hat-trick to lead Punjab to a remarkable victory over Delhi Capitals.
The bowling is looking formidable as well with Mujeeb ur Rahman and Murugan Ashwin forming a strong spin contingent alongside the skipper while India pacer Mohammed Shami has been an excellent addition.
There could be an IPL debut on the cards for New Zealand all-rounder Scott Kuggeleijn who has replaced the injured Lungi Ngidi in the Chennai squad.
The 27-year-old has played two ODIs and three T20s for his country so far and should be available to take the field against Punjab after joining up with the squad on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Chennai all-rounder Dwayne Bravo is a doubt for the game after picking up a hamstring injury in his side’s win over Mumbai.
For Punjab, veteran Chris Gayle sat out the clash against Delhi due to an injury with Curran replacing him in the playing XI.
The Windies opener could be back for the clash against the defending champions.
Chennai Super Kings: Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (c and wk), Mitchell Santner, Ravindra Jadeja, Scott Kuggeleijn, Deepak Chahar, Mohit Sharma, Imran Tahir.
Kings XI Punjab: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul (wk), Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan, David Miller, Mandeep Singh, Sam Curran, Ravi Ashwin (c), Murugan Ashwin, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Mohammed Shami.
Virat Kohli and his Bangalore team have failed to arrive in the IPL this season with four defeats in as many games and time is running out for them to get their campaign back on track.
Kolkata, on the other hand, started the campaign with two successive wins but were handed a loss by Delhi Capitals via a super over in their most recent encounter.
Will Bangalore finally open their account or will Kolkata inflict further misery on Kohli’s men? Find out by following the ball-by-ball updates from Bengaluru below.
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Chris Gayle – KXIP (10.5 credits)
After missing Punjab’s 14-run win over Delhi Capitals, Chris Gayle will be welcomed back into the fold. The West Indies batsman has looked in good form this season, getting decent starts in each of his three outings. Following his knock of 79 against Rajasthan Royals, he cut loose in Mumbai as well. With a strike rate of 165.47 in this campaign, he could do some real damage.
Imran Tahir – CSK (9 credits)
The spinner is among the best bowlers this season, picking up seven wickets at an average of 11. Imran Tahir has been one of the most consistent performers and has particularly excelled in Chennai where he’s taken five of his wickets. His economy of 5.5 is also hugely impressive.
Sam Curran – KXIP (8.5 credits)
He got swatted around on his IPL debut but responded in his final over to take two wickets. In his next match he stole the show, bagging a hat-trick on his way to figures of 4-11. He’s looked confident with the bat as well but will want to build on quick-fire 20 after opening the innings in the last game.
KL Rahul – KXIP (10 credits)
KL Rahul has disappointed this season. After being dismissed cheaply in the opening two matches, he responded with an excellent half century against Mumbai Indians. He only managed 15 last time out in the win over Delhi but having gotten off to a good start, you get the sense that he’s still in top form. He edges MS Dhoni for dismissals this season, three to two.
CAPTAIN – Chris Gayle
VICE CAPTAIN – Imran Tahir