Chennai Super Kings host upbeat Kolkata Knight Riders
By Arun Gopalakrishnan
Mumbai 29 April 2012
Match 41 of DLF IPL 2012 will see two heavyweights – the Chennai Super Kings and the Kolkata Knight Riders – face off.
Though they have four wins in their kitty, the defending champions have been far from convincing so far. In two out of their four victories – against the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Rajasthan Royals – they’ve barely scraped past the finish line. On the other hand, in three out of their four defeats, they’ve been no match for their opponents.
MS Dhoni and co. started with an enviable home record, but defeats in two home matches this season (including against Kings XI Punjab in their previous match) should rattle them.
The Kolkata Knight Riders were slow off the blocks – losing their first two matches, but have since won five and lost one seven matches. They will come into this contest as a confident unit after they demolished the formidable-looking Royal Challengers Bangalore in their previous match.
Monday, April 30, 2012, 08:00 p.m.
MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
The Chennai Super Kings will be aware that they have a few problems to address. Faf du Plessis has been the only shining light in a batting line-up that hasn’t fired to its potential. The miserable form of Suresh Raina is hurting the team badly, while the lack of potency among the bowlers – especially the slower bowlers – must be a worry for the defending champions. Between R Ashwin, Shadab Jakati and Suresh Raina, CSK have only bagged eight wickets in nine matches at the rate of 48 runs per wicket. The corresponding numbers during last season were 34 wickets in 16 matches at the rate of 27 runs per wicket.
Gautam Gambhir has been his team’s best batsman by a mile; the KKR skipper was in spectacular form in the previous match when he creamed the RCB bowlers for a career-best 93. He will continue to be the most important name in the KKR batting line-up, while the likes of Brendon McCullum and Jacques Kallis have enough experience to play more than just support roles.
The form of Yusuf Pathan should be a reason for KKR to worry. The big-hitter looks a pale shadow of the destructive player he is known to be; he’s scored only 36 runs in seven innings (at a strike-rate of 92.30) and has only picked up one wicket. Given his talent and temperament, one can be sure he is a ticking time-bomb waiting to explode, and that the day he fires he will blow away the opposition.
The Chennai Super Kings have a 5-2 win-loss record from eight matches against the Kolkata Knight Riders in the previous seasons. While MS Dhoni’s men won both matches against KKR in IPL 2008 and IPL 2010, both teams won their respective home matches in IPL 2011.
In IPL 2009 in South Africa, the first meeting between the two teams at Cape Town was washed out by rains, while the Kolkata Knight Riders emerged triumphant in the second meeting at the Centurion.
Chennai Super Kings’ Suresh Raina is the only player to score more than 400 runs in every season of the IPL.
Among Indian cricketers, KKR’s Yusuf Pathan has hit the most sixes in Twenty20 cricket (131), while CSK’s Suresh Raina is second in the list with 121 hits over the fence.
The Chennai Super Kings will play their third consecutive home fixture when they take on the Deccan Chargers on May 4. Meanwhile, the Kolkata Knight Riders head back home for a four-day break before hosting the Pune Warriors India on May 5.