However, while the bottom-placed hosts have little more than pride to play for, there is a playoffs advantage CSK stand to lose in the worst case scenario.
Chennai top the 2019 Indian Premier League standings heading into Sunday’s fixtures but a hefty defeat to Punjab, as unlikely as that may be, coupled by a victory for Mumbai Indians over Kolkata Knight Riders could see them drop out of the top two spots.
Should that transpire, the defending champions would have to play an extra match in order to make the finals – the Eliminator against the fourth-placed team before taking on the loser from the first Qualifier for a spot in the showpiece event. MS Dhoni and Co will strive to prevent that.
After their most recent defeat to Mumbai, CSK responded with an emphatic 80-run win over Delhi Capitals with the veterans leading the way. Suresh Raina (59) and Dhoni (44*) helped post a first-innings score of 179/4 before Imran Tahir took 4-12 and Ravindra Jadeja 3-9 restricted the opposition to just 99.
Meanwhile, Punjab will want to end their season on a high and avoid finishing it in last place. After Royal Challengers Bangalore’s four wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday, they leapfrogged Kings XI who languish at the foot of the table with just 10 points from 13 games.
Much will depend on the skipper Ravi Ashwin and veteran Mohammed Shami with the ball as Punjab’s bowling, particularly during powerplays, has been a concern.
They needed to win their last game against KKR in order to make the playoffs but despite posting 183/6 in the first innings, they let themselves down in the field and Kolkata, led by opener Shubman Gill’s unbeaten 65 off 46, were able to chase down the target with seven wickets and two overs to spare.
KXIP: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Nicolas Pooran, Mandeep Singh, Sam Curran, Ravi Ashwin, Andrew Tye, Murugan Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh
CSK: Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, Suresh Raina, Kedar Jhadav, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Deepak Chahar, Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir.
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