IPL 2018 | Match 56 | CSK vs KXIP: Chennai Super Kings will be facing Kings XI Punjab for the fourth and final knockout match before the playoffs kick off at the Maharashtra Cricket Stadium, Pune tonight at 20:00 IST.
Kings XI Punjab dominated the first half of the season but now their luck has reversed with only win in seven matches. The team has a herculean task ahead of them as they not only have to worry about defeating the second-placed Chennai Super Kings but also about raising their net run rate. Just a win won’t get them through to the playoffs – currently, their NRR is -0.490 and they will have to exceed -0.250 to replace Rajasthan Royals from the fourth position, provided the Mumbai Indians fail today.
Only KL Rahul has provided in terms of batting with spectacular knocks in all their matches but has been unable to lead the team to the victory with little to no support from his fellow batsmen. Chris Gayle started off the season with a vengeance for being one of the lowest auctioned players and partnered with Rahul to form a torpedo-like duo but has been inconsistent lately. Among the remaining, Aaron Finch, Marcus Stoinis, Yuvraj Singh, Mayank Agarwal and Karun Nair have failed to perform when the team needed them the most.
In case of bowling, Andrew Tye is the leading wicket-taker not only in the team but also in the tournament with 24 wickets from 13 matches. Without the injured Mujeeb ur Rahman, however, even his bowling does not have the required impact and against the star-studded batting line-up that is CSK, more than Tye is required for a win. Ravichandran Ashwin will need to put his wide assortment of pacers and spinners to use tonight and he himself will have to step up.
CSK, on the other hand, have already qualified for the playoffs and they sit in second place with 16 points. A win will place them at par with the Sunrisers Hyderabad and directly into the first Qualifiers on May 22nd. However, they recently tasted defeat in the hands of bottom-of-the-table Delhi Daredevils which has exposed their weaknesses and they will need to gain footing again.
For the Yellow Brigade, Ambati Rayudu has been brilliant throughout both as an opener and at number four position. He will be expected to give a flying start to the team with Australian all-rounder Shane Watson. MS Dhoni himself has proved himself to be one of the best captains the world has seen and has taken it upon himself to take the team to victory after the two-year hiatus. Suresh Raina, Dwayne Bravo, and Ravindra Jadeja will also need to make an impact tonight.
Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur will take care of the bowling department along with the veteran spinner duo of Harbhajan Singh and Ravindra Jadeja. Bravo will need to gather himself as he found himself hammered for 26 runs off the final over in the last match.
The temperatures have been going to a maximum of 37 degrees during the day in Pune but thunderstorms are a possibility in the evening.
CSK will most probably stick with the same line-up. In case of KXIP, Yuvraj Singh may face replacement by Karun Nair and Mujeeb ur Rahman was seen at the try-outs but it is still not confirmed as to whether he’d make it for the game tonight.
The two teams have clashed seventeen times previously and CSK leads with three wins over KXIP. Pune hasn’t been that lucky for the team either as KXIP has managed only one win of six games in this venue. CSK has the upper hand regarding batting and the least wickets lost and are therefore the more probable winners of tonight’s match.
Brad Hodge, the head coach of KXIP, expressed his nervousness regarding tonight’s game – “I just hope we are in a position tomorrow where we can give an entertaining performance and try and make the playoffs.”
A season that has seen major comebacks, will KXIP be able to finally get it together and bring back the grandeur their team held at the beginning of the season? Watch tonight to find out.