Table-toppers Chennai Super Kings will look to complete the double against Kolkata Knight Riders when the two teams clash in quick succession after their first meeting in the Indian Premier League match at Eden Gardens on Sunday.

The home side’s consistency has suddenly taken a beating after two defeats on the trot, first in Chennai and then against Delhi Capitals on Friday. KKR would be under some pressure to arrest the slide when they face the mighty Chennai.

Both their defeats exposed KKR’s over reliance on Andre Russell, who looked ominous, but the opponents figured out a way to win despite the Windies power-hitter’s continuing run of form, by restricting the team to below-par totals overall.

To make matters worse, the Jamaican is a doubtful starter after aggravating his wrist injury that he had sustained in Chennai. He never looked at ease during his 21-ball 45 against Delhi. He also could not finish his quota of four overs while bowling and limped off the ground.

“He has a bit of an issue. He braved that and still went on to play this game. He is always a special cricketer. We will take a call day after,” skipper Dinesh Karthik said about the availability of Russell, who has been the man-of-the-match in three of their four wins.

Russell has been exceptional for KKR this season with six successive 40-plus scores and it would be a massive blow for the hosts if they miss him in the back end of the tournament.

Thankfully for KKR, talented youngster Shubman Gill looked in sublime form and returned with a 65 off 39 balls after being promoted to open against Delhi Capitals.

But KKR need their batting to click as a whole, especially skipper Dinesh Karthik, their leading run-getter last season. He has been struggling this time with 93 runs at a woeful average of 15.33. Karthik, who is also eyeing a World Cup berth, will be under a lot of pressure to score runs personally and also turn it around for KKR on the eve of the India team selection.

With the Eden surface not helping the spinners much, the spin-oriented attack too have struggled to pick wickets while the pace attack in Prasidh Krishna and Lockie Ferguson looks pedestrian. Kuldeep Yadav’s lack of wickets is a concern, not just for KKR but for Indian cricket as well.

CSK on song

Under the astute captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Chennai are on a rampage with six wins out of seven, including three in a row. But in the last match, Dhoni was in the spotlight for wrong reasons.

In a rare instance, Dhoni uncharacteristically lost his cool and rushed out of the dug-out to challenge umpire Ulhas Gandhe after he flip-flopped on a no ball during an IPL match against Rajasthan Royals on Thursday night.

Although Dhoni escaped a ban and was let off with a 50 per cent fine on his match fee for an unprecedented confrontation with the umpires, former cricketers came down heavily on India’s two-time World Cup winning captain for his act, saying he set a wrong precedent.

This match will take place in the backdrop of the latest IPL controversy but the Super Kings will be keen to put it behind them with another dazzling performance. The team have once again showed a knack of winning from improbable situations as they play their second away match on the trot, with two more to follow. The defending champions will also be without the services of Harbhajan Singh for this match.

The performances have not been without weaknesses, with the team’s fielding and death bowling once again looking shaky. Lack of runs for Shane Watson and Suresh Raina is a concern as well as the team has been repeatedly bailed out by Dhoni in the middle order.

If CSK keep their winning ways up away from the home, their form in Chepauk make them the undoubted favourites for the season.

Head to Head in IPL:

Overall: Matches – 19, Kolkata Knight Riders – 7, Chennai Super Kings –12.


Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (c/wk), Robin Uthappa, Chris Lynn, Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Nikhil Naik, Joe Denly, Shrikant Mundhe, Nitish Rana, Sandeep Warrier, Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson, Harry Gurney, Matt Kelly, KC Cariappa and Yarra Prithviraj.

Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (c/wk), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Murali Vijay, Kedar Jadhav, Sam Billings, Ravindra Jadeja, Dhruv Shorey, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Rituraj Gaikwad, Dwayne Bravo, Karn Sharma, Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Santner, Shardul Thakur, Mohit Sharma, KM Asif, Deepak Chahar, N Jagadeesan, Scott Kuggeleijn.

Match starts at 4pm (IST).

(With PTI and inputs)