A mouth-watering clash is in store for the fans in the Indian Premier League as Kolkata Knight Riders travel to Chennai for what promises to be a thrilling encounter.
Both teams have lost just one of their five games and have hence collected eight points so far this season.
Chennai Super Kings enter this fixture after making light work of Kings XI Punjab, while the Knight Riders eased to a win over Rajasthan Royals away from home on Sunday.
We take a look at the talking points ahead of the big game.
The same fixture last season was one of the best games in the history of the tournament. Windies star Andre Russell powered Kolkata to a total of 202 runs, smashing 11 sixes across the MA Chidambaram stadium enroute to his 35-ball 88. International team-mate Dwayne Bravo was victim to most of the fireworks, going for 50 runs in his three overs.
However, the hosts managed to complete a spectacular comeback to treat the neutrals to a classic. Shane Watson and Ambati Rayadu provided Chennai a strong opening, but it took a miracle from Sam Billings – who scored 56 runs of 23 balls – to hand them a famous win. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men scored 50 runs in the last 19 balls to achieve the target.
Given how both the teams are in really good form going into this match, can expect yet another classic? But the bowlers could be the ones to decide the fixture on Tuesday …
A battle of spinners
The Chennai pitch is building a reputation for being a slow, spinner-friendly pitch. Royal Challengers Bangalore were bowled out for just 70 runs on this pitch and Punjab managed to muster only 138. Chennai have won all three of their games here and the average of the runs scored by their opponents is just 125.
Both teams are well-equipped with quality spinners and this game could probably be decided by one of them. Harbhajan Singh – one of Chennai’s best players this season – will be leading the spin attack which also includes the likes of Imran Tahir and Ravindra Jadeja. Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla – who recently tamed Jos Buttler on a slow Jaipur track – will be key for Kolkata. It will eventually come down to which batting line-up will react better to the spin-attack.
CSK’s death-over woes and Andre Russell
Chennai’s only defeat this season came against Mumbai Indians. Chennai’s woeful bowling in the death overs was one massive take-away from that game. Mumbai managed to score 170 runs after they were left reeling at just 112/4 after 16.4 overs. Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard absolutely dismantled a Bravo-led Chennai bowling attack, scoring 58 runs in the last 20 balls.
The hosts will have to be wary of a certain Russell, who has asserted himself on almost every bowling attack he has faced this season. The Windies international can be brutal at the death, as demonstrated against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Punjab and Bangalore.
His aggregate score in these three games reads 145 runs from just 49 balls. Russell is clearly in the form of his life and if he is allowed the freedom to express himself, he could cause havoc and emerge as the top performer yet again.
Chennai Super Kings: Faf Du Plessis filled in for an injured Dwayne Bravo against Punjab and he impressed by scoring 54 runs from 38 balls. It could be a coin toss between him and Bravo, depending on the latter’s fitness.
Kolkata Knight Riders: There are no injuries. Kolkata are expected to field an unchanged 11 from their impressive victory over Rajasthan.
An intriguing clash awaits on Monday night, as Kings XI Punjab and Sunrisers Hyderabad meet in Mohali nursing their recent wounds.
Kings XI couldn’t get to grips with Chennai’s spin-friendly pitch on Saturday, while the Sunrisers were obliterated by record-breaking debutant Alzarri Joseph and Mumbai Indians.
With three victories out of five under their respective belts, a win would firmly place either side in the top half of the IPL table.
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Put to bat first, Rajasthan managed to register just 139 runs on the board, more than half of which was contributed by Smith.
The Australian made his way to the crease after Prasidh Krishna removed Rahane in the first ball of the second over. He stayed unbeaten at 73 runs and hence prevented Rajasthan from putting up an embarrassing target for Kolkata.
In the end, it was not enough as Kolkata’s opening pair of Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine made short work of Rajasthan’s bowlers and provided their team a strong start in the chase.
We take a closer look at Smith’s performance:
Strike rate: 123.73
Anatomy of Smith’s innings
Despite scoring 73 runs, Smith could have done a lot better, especially with his strike rate.
A strike rate of 123.73 while playing almost 10 overs cannot be seen as something productive on – what Kolkata showed to be – a good batting surface.
The Australian started slow and took his time to adjust to the surface. He was clearly tested by Krishna’s pace and struggled to get the boundaries.
Up until the 10th over, the Australian was struggling to get his striker rate over 100 and only then did he slowly get himself into the game.
The wicket of Jos Buttler in the 12th over piled further pressure on Smith and to his credit, he did react well to it.
It wasn’t until the 15th over that the boundaries were flowing at an impressive rate for Smith and Rajasthan. It was then that he got to his half-century and did so in 44 balls.
In the last four overs, Smith and Ben Stokes managed to add just 33 runs on the board for the visitors.
Battle between Krishna and Smith
The battle between Krishna and Smith was an interesting one.
The fast bowler initially troubled the Australian with short deliveries. This continued in his second over in the same spell and Smith was yet to assert dominance on the Indian.
In his second spell, Krishna quizzed Smith with some good variations and slower deliveries, but the Australian came out on top this time and ensured that he reached his 50 in Krishna’s over after smashing two boundaries in the youngster’s third over.
This was Smith’s first 50 since August 2018 and he played a key role in preventing a huge collapse in the Rajasthan batting order.
Although, the fact that Kolkata chased the target in just 14 overs showed that Rajasthan were clearly more than 50 runs short of a competitive total.
The Australian could have raised his tempo and added those decisive runs, because a strike rate of just 123 after having faced 59 balls is underwhelming.