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IPL 2018: Chennai Super Kings look to continue winning run against Kings XI Punjab

Chennai Super Kings will look to continue their winning streak when they lock horns with Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Sunday. It will be the third game for both teams.

cricket Updated: Apr 15, 2018 00:27 IST
Ashutosh Sharma
Ashutosh Sharma
Hindustan Times, Mohali
IPL 2018,Chennai Super Kings,Kings XI Punjab
Chennai Super Kings (CSK) will take on Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) in their third game of IPL 2018 in Mohali on Sunday. (AFP)

As Chennai Super Kings juggernaut rolls on once again, there is little any team can do. Under MS Dhoni, it hardly looks like the franchisee is making a comeback into the league after a suspension of two years. The calmness of Captain Cool has rubbed off as Dwayne Bravo and Sam Billings played innings of their life’s to set up improbable chases against Mumbai Indians and then Kolkata Knight Riders. (IPL 2018 FULL COVERAGE)

With two back-to-back wins CSK are certainly more confident than their hosts Kings XI Punjab who are coming off a loss against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday.

READ: IPL 2018: Umesh Yadav wants to play in all formats for India

CSK injury woes

But even before a ball has been bowled for the Sunday night game, Chennai have been pegged back by injuries to key players. Suresh Raina is set to miss this match because of calf injury, along with South African pacer Lungi Ngidi, who has gone back following the sudden passing of his father. There are questions on Murali Vijay and Faf du Plessis fitness also but on the eve of the match coach Stephen Fleming allayed those fears and said, “Vijay is fit and Faf is close but we might not rush him.” CSK have already lost Kedar Jadhav for the entire tournament but his replacement David Willey joined the team Friday evening.

Any talk around the match is eventfully going to boil down to Dhoni vs Ashwin contest. One is accomplished, having won everything including IPL twice, while the other, once a teammate, is into his maiden-run as a leader marshalling Punjab.

READ: IPL 2018: Shane Warne, Ajinkya Rahane a case of ‘opposites attract’

Dhoni has little to prove to anyone but on the other hand Ashwin, having lost his limited overs berth, has everything to play for.

Revamped Kings XI Punjab started off well, Ashwin led from the front, sent down a few leg breaks too, and then batting took over to register a six-wicket win against DD. But their best laid plans unraveled against RCB.

Spin battle

Both side boasts of a formidable spin line-up. With Ashwin among wickets and using every variation possible, complimented by both Axar Patel and Afghan mystery spinner Mujeeb ur Rehman, Punjab can form a strategy around the trio to keep the likes of Dhoni, Shane Watson, Dwayne Bravo and Sam Billings quite.

READ: IPL 2018: Jason Roy’s unbeaten 91 helps Delhi Daredevils get past Mumbai Indians

CSK on the other hand will bank on Harbhajan Singh, Ravindra Jadeja and Imran Tahir to do that job curtailing the likes of KL Rahul, David Miller and Marcus Stoinis.

For Punjab, it will be imperative to get a great start and put the runs on the board. Chris Gayle is yet to get the match but Rahul has ensured that his absence is not felt. After a 14-ball half-century in the first match, he, yet again, gave the side a good start with 47 runs off 30 balls but the other batsmen failed.

A mistake that they cannot repeat against CSK, who have successfully chased down bigger scores twice. In the end, Ashwin will not only have to contribute with the ball but will have to be on toes for the entire match if his side has to outfox a wily skipper like Dhoni.

First Published: Apr 14, 2018 21:49 IST