Chennai Super Kings vs King XI Punjab:
Suresh Raina’s merry band of boys take on the struggling Kings XI Punjab in their second home game of the season and the young captain would be hopeful of a repeat performance from his boys which led to a crucial win in a tight contest with the Daredevils.
The left-handed opener’s mangoose-bat demolition of Delhi Daredevils’ bowling made compelling viewing. The Australian opener’s 43-ball 93 was high on octane and low on respite for the opposition.
Hayden striking form – with whichever bat – is good news for Chennai Super Kings (CSK). He is still influential and can still strike the ball with immense power. With skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni out with an elbow injury till CSK’s away game against Mumbai Indians on March 25, CSK needs this Australian’s solidity. Hayden will be a clear and present danger to the struggling Kings XI Punjab in the IPL game here at Chepauk on Sunday night.
While the Super Kings have shrugged off their initial lethargy and also managed to bounce back after losing their first-choice captain MS Dhoni, the Kings XI have struggled to get going as a unit failing in all three of their games. While the tournament is still in its early stages, time is fast running out for Kumar Sangakkara’s men and they would need to stop relying on individual performances and collectively fire in order to get back to winning ways
In Dhoni’s absence, Suresh Raina has skippered the side well and batted with both responsibility and flair. While Raina and Hayden are in good form with the bat, they would definitely look for better support from Badrinath and Justin Kemp. Parthiv Patel too finds his way back into the side with Dhoni out, and it would be a crucial time for him and Murali Vijay to deliver.
In the bowling department, the lanky Lakshmipathy Balaji has upped his pace and is hitting the deck harder with a fine wrist and seam position. The bowling looks well settled with Muralitharan leading it and though both he and fellow spinner R Ashwin haven’t picked up too many wickets, they have been extremely thrifty. Raina might re-consider Manpreet Gony to replace the expensive Joginder Sharma.
In the three games that Punjab has played till now; both their batting and the bowling have come good – ironically never together. Skipper Sangakkara is a match-winner, so is Mahela Jayawardene. However, Kings XI Punjab requires Yuvraj Singh to fire. It also needs Irfan Pathan – he dazzled with the willow against Deccan Chargers in a last gasp effort – and Santhakumaran Sreesanth to take wickets upfront and Piyush Chawla to be influential with his leg-spin. The side is desperately missing the injured Brett Lee’s bowling at the Death.
With two half-centuries and a 38 under his belt, Ravi Bopara would consider himself extremely unlucky to be on the losing side in all three games and only if the senior pros would have given a bit more support the story would have been different. A highest score of 26* between skipper Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Yuvraj Singh sums up the situation for Punjab and unless the big guns fire, the mood in the dug-out will not improve.
The side will have to believe in itself. This game is all about confidence.
In Chennai, Punjab face a side they have never beaten in the IPL. All four Chennai wins have been fairly comprehensive and have come while batting first. They beat Punjab by 33 & 18 runs respectively in the away and home clashes in 2008 before piling on the agony in South Africa, with 12 & 24 run-margin victories. With or without the ‘mongoose’, with Hayden at the top the Chennai Super Kings look powerful enough to rout the Kings XI Punjab at home.