Buoyed by their convincing seven-wicket win over title holders Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings will take on Kings XI Punjab in their second IPL knockout game inside three days in Mumbai on Friday with swashbuckling batsman Glenn Maxwell being a major threat to their chances.
Riding on the 25-year-old Australian batsman's incandescent 90-plus run knocks in Abu Dhabi and Cuttack in the group stage of the T20 League, Kings XI Punjab had flattened two-time champions Chennai Super Kings.
Friday's Qualifier 2, the penultimate IPL-7 match, at the Wankhede Stadium will provide Chennai a great platform to avenge those two defeats and leapfrog into the June 1 summit clash against Kolkata Knight Riders in Bangalore.
However, to achieve the feat of entering the final for the sixth time, Chennai will have to stop Maxwell, who simply tore into their bowlers, especially two key spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja on the two previous occasions.
Maxwell, the third highest run-getter with 539 runs this season, smashed 95 in 43 balls in Abu Dhabi last month to help Punjab chase down a massive 206-run target set up by the Super Kings. The Victorian was even more dominating in their subsequent clash earlier this month at Cuttack, where he hit a whirlwind 90 off just 35 balls to power Punjab to an incredible score of 231.
Ashwin was smashed for 38 runs without a wicket in just two overs by Maxwell, while Jadeja conceded 37 runs in three overs without any success.
The destruction of these two Super Kings' bowlers by Maxwell will certainly come up for discussion by the Super Kings' think-tank ahead of their do-or-die encounter.
Kings XI's bowling attack is also good. They have been relying mostly on their Indian players in Sandeep Sharma (17 wickets), left-arm spinner Akshar Patel (16 wickets), who has been included in the Indian team for the tour of Bangladesh next month, and seasoned Laxmipathy Balaji (12 wickets), along with Australian left-arm pacer Mitchell Johnson (14 wickets).
They tried out leggie Karanveer Singh and Parvinder Awana in the first Qualifier, while Sandeep Sharma and Balaji were benched. Both seamers should be back in the playing eleven on Friday.
The Kings XI bowlers need to provide the team with some early wickets against the Super Kings, who have the requisite depth and explosive power in their batting that includes captain and one of the world's best finishers Mahendra Singh Dhoni, to overhaul big scores.
A capacity crowd is expected to witness the season's penultimate IPL game and they would not like to watch anything less than another humdinger.
Kings XI Punjab: George Bailey (captain), Virender Sehwag, Manan Vohra, Wridhiman Saha, Glenn Maxwell, David Miller, Akshar Patel, Rishi Dhawan, Mitchell Johnson, Karanveer Singh, L Balaji, Sandeep Sharma, Parvinder Awana, B Hendricks, Shaun Marsh, Cheteshwar Pujara, Mandeep Singh, Shardul Thakur, Shivam Sharma, Anureet Singh, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, M Karthik.
Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Faf du Plessis, Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith, Ashish Nehra, Mohit Sharma, Samuel Badree, Ben Hilfenhaus, Matt Henry, B Aparajith, Mithun Manhas, Ishwar Pandey, Pawan Negi, Vijay Shankar, Ronit More, John Hastings.