Dubai: Bottom-placed former three-time champions Chennai Super Kings will be out to redeem some lost pride as they take on Kolkata Knight Riders in their preliminary round fixture of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in Dubai on Thursday.
Out of the race for a possible shot at the play-offs, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men will want to sign off on a winning note while finishing at least with 12 points with their last couple of games to play.
The Knight Riders, on the other hand, are very much in the running for a play-off spot as they linger in fifth spot with 12 points after as many games and an inferior net run-rate compared to fourth-placed Kings XI Punjab. Both of them will now have to be wary of the sixth-placed Sunrisers Hyderabad – now on a winning streak and with the best net run-rate than all seven teams except leaders and four-time defending champions Mumbai Indians.
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There is a huge possibility that nearly all of the top four teams may end up on either 16 or 14 points by the end of qualifying matches in the first week of November. This means that teams will need to keep an eye on their net run-rate before the final four huddle into the business-end of the competition.
What could be a huge cause of concern for KKR would be their unsettled batting order despite reaching virtually the end of the competition. Former skipper Dinesh Karthik, capable of putting in single-handed performances that have decided matches in the past, has been out of form while Nitish Rana, who shone in their win against the Delhi Capitals, had been inconsistent - to say the least.
The KKR bowlers, on the contrary, have done a good job with Tamil Nadu’s mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy the pick of the lot – a performance which eventually has given him a break to the T20 Team India squad for their tour of Australia immediately after the IPL. Paceman Pat Cummins – the costliest purchase - hasn’t exactly fired off for the Knight Riders.
CSK will be aiming to carry on with their momentum following that huge win over the Royal Challengers Bangalore and end the season on a high, apart from hurting the play-off chances of other hopefuls. Their batting did show some spark with the young Ruturaj Gaikwad coming up with an enterprising knock and skipper Dhoni will be hoping he keeps his good form going.
The CSK bowlers choked a strong RCB batting unit the other day with a performance that reminded fans of a Chennai team from the past and that should be a worry for the KKR batsmen who have been struggling on their consistency front.
Catch the match
Kolkata Knight Riders vs Chennai Super Kings
Venue: Dubai International Stadium
Start: 6 pm
Live telecast on Bein Sports