Defending Champions Chennai Super Kings after marching on in the tournament with three successive wins faced a hiccup with a loss to arch-rivals Mumbai Indians.
Now, the yellow brigade returns to Chepauk to take on the confident Kings XI Punjab and is hoping to get back to winning ways.
Ravichandran Ashwin returns to his home but for the first time will be playing against CSK in Chepauk. For someone who knows the venue like the back of his hand, his experience might come in handy for the Punjab outfit which is placed just above Chennai in the points table.
The outfit is upbeat especially after their come-from-behind victory against Delhi Capitals in their last game, aided by Sam Curran’s hattrick which eventually helped them win by Delhi 14 runs. One concern for Punjab though is the fitness of their talismanic opener Chris Gayle. He sat out in the last game and though, his replacement, Sam Curran did well by opening the innings, his inclusion in the team will bolster the spirits of KXIP. The KXIP openers however will be vary of Deepak Chahar against whom batsmen have struggled to score early in the innings especially in Chepauk.
Apart from Ashwin, his team also has Chennai lads like Murugan Ashwin and Varun Chakravarthy, IPL’s costlier spinner, who had a forgettable debut against Kolkata Knight Riders. Having played their entire life at the MA Chidambaram stadium, these spinners along with Ashwin could work wonders for the team if they get a place in the playing 11.
For CSK, Dwayne Bravo’s availability is clouded with doubt as the veteran all-rounder injured his hamstring during the last game. He was also at the receiving end of Pandya’s onslaught in the last game and if he is deemed unfit, CSK might bring in Mitchell Santner back as the pitch at Chennai aids spin. He along with Jadeja and Tahir can pose a big challenge to the Punjab batsmen.
While Deepak Chahar and the spinners are helping CSK restrict the opposition from scoring at the start of the innings, it is the team’s death bowling that is letting them down. CSK will look to improve it in the coming games. Ambatu Rayudu have also come under scanner after his poor performance so far with the bat.
At Chennai, Ashwin would however be hoping that the Kings put up a better show against the Super Kings.
Photo: V M Srinivasan