KXIP vs CSK, IPL 2019: Chennai Super Kings aim to seal top spot, manage workloads
Workload is the buzzword as the league stage of this edition of the IPL winds down. As table-toppers Chennai Super Kings take to the field against Kings XI Punjab in the 55th match of the season, all eyes will be on MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja and Kedar Jadhav — three World Cup-bound India players in the CSK squad.
There are a few others in the fray as well, with Cricket South Africa (CSA) keeping close watch on Faf Du Plessis and Imran Tahir after their premier strike bowler Kagiso Rabada suffered an injury playing for Delhi Capitals. Punjab also have a few in the mix with Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, KL Rahul and Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Davis Miller all kept busy chasing a now elusive play-offs berth.
CSK have long admitted that with older players making up the core, it’s difficult to compete and recover, but somehow the same experience has managed to get them the wins as they sit pretty at the top of league table. “We look at the workload of all the players because we are little bit older than all the teams. So, we are always monitoring them,” coach Stephen Fleming said.
Kings XI Punjab have once again faltered, giving CSK an opportunity to top the league and the advantage of getting two chances to make it to the final. Coach Fleming said his players, especially the World Cup bound, already have an eye on it and the team is doing utmost to manage workloads.
“Depends on what happens today. If the results go our way today, we can have a look at options. We are fixed on winning tomorrow and playing well. We don’t want to complicate things, we have been in this position for number of times and very focused on how we can win tomorrow,” Fleming said.
While Jadhav has struggled with runs and Jadeja has done his bit with bat and ball, it’s the fitness of Dhoni that has CSK worried. Every time the skipper hasn’t played, CSK have looked in disarray. The team lost against SRH when Dhoni missed the game because of back spasm, and then again against MI when Dhoni missed the game due to fever.
“The positive about MS (Dhoni) being sick last week was that he has been able to take some rest. And that one of the challenges you have when you want your best player to play. I think, he came back good and said his back felt great. He is a little weak from the flu. Another few days are important at this stage. All the players are suffering from a bit of fatigue so managing that is priority from coaching point of view,” the coach said.
Punjab, after a loss to KKR on Friday, have now lost four on the trot and haven’t won a game since their win against Rajasthan Royals on April 16. The top heavy team’s misfiring middle order has been exposed every time the openers Gayle and Rahul have failed. At this point a win for R Ashwin-led Punjab looks more like ending the season on a high rather than technically keeping the playoff hopes alive.