Dubai: Chennai Super Kings will once again be looking at their top order to fire as they prepare to take on a disjointed Kolkata Knight Riders in their Indian Premier League (IPL) match at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium, in Abu Dhabi, on Wednesday.
The three-time champions made more than a bold statement with their emphatic 10-wicket win against the Kings XI Punjab on Sunday. Often referred to as the Dad’s Army of the IPL, the pairing of Shane Watson (83 off 53 balls) and Faf du Plessis (87 off 53) showed how that extra dose of experience can get a team over the line when it matters the most.
When Punjab racked up a total of 178 on the back of a steady 63 (52 balls) from skipper KL Rahul, it looked as if the match was beyond the reach of Chennai, going by their recent form this season. However, the CSK opening pair produced the best first-wicket partnership of IPL 2020 to once again assert that they cannot be written, at least not yet.
Currently in sixth place with just four points after five matches, CSK’s win last week could not have come at a better time with Watson and Faf coming out blazing, especially in the powerplay overs. Tentative at first, Watson eventually found his touch and together with the in-form Faf, runs poured for CSK as KXIP found it tough to claw back into the game.
Dinesh Karthik, the KKR skipper has come in for some criticism for his inability to guide his star-studded line-up of players. Despite having England’s World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan in their ranks, the KKR management have continued with the Indian wicketkeeper-batsman to lead the team.
Karthik, however, is yet to repay this vote of confidence as the team has just two wins from the four matches played so far. To make matters worse, his faith in opening batsman Sunil Narine has not exactly paid dividends like in the past as the West Indies player has managed just 27 runs in four games played so far. Karthik himself has also been found wanting with just 37 runs coming from his bat.
Along with Morgan, there’s Shubman Gill and West Indies star Andre Russell and of course Big Bash sensation Tom Banton – often compared to Kevin Pietersen for his poise and flashy play - but Karthik is yet to get this combination right.
KKR have plenty of resources in bowling, but it seems that Karthik has not been able to manage them adequately, as proved in their match against the Delhi Capitals last week.
One more day and one more match, and perhaps the experienced KKR skipper will be able to script a turnaround for his team.
Catch the match
Chennai Super Kings vs Kolkata Knight Riders
Venue: Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Start: 6 pm UAE
Live telecast on Bein Sports