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It will be a battle of the Kings when two-time champions and IPL 2013 runners-up Chennai Super Kings square off against Kings XI Punjab in Match 3 of Pepsi IPL 2014.
The MS Dhoni-led CSK are perhaps the most consistent outfit in the IPL; they have contested in the Playoffs in every one of the six seasons so far, have won the championship on two occasions and finished second on three other occasions. The team owners exercised the option of retaining five key players prior to the 2014 Pepsi IPL Player Auction – MS Dhoni, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo, apart from Suresh Raina. As a result, they have maintained the nucleus of the team that has done well over the years. With a calm leader in MS Dhoni on the field and the serene Stephen Fleming managing the players off it, one can be sure that CSK will be best equipped for battle.
KXIP have never made it to the final four since the inaugural season of the IPL. The franchise owners and team management have made some very good buys at the 2014 Pepsi IPL Player Auction and they will be hoping the players they have chosen will be able to deliver the goods.
Wednesday, April 18, 2014, 4 pm IST
Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi The Protagonists
If it is Twenty20 and Chennai Super Kings are the topic of discussion, chances are that Raina’s name will prominently feature in the conversation. The southpaw has featured in every one of the franchise’s matches and has possibly contributed more to the team’s success than any other player. Among the recent acquisitions, Samuel Badree and Brendon McCullum will be the ones to look forward to. There is a good chance that either Faf du Plessis or Brendon McCullum will make it to the playing XI at the expense of Dwayne Bravo, who is said to be nursing an injury he suffered in the recently-concluded ICC World T20.
Kings XI Punjab were immensely impressive in their choice of players at the 2014 Pepsi IPL Player Auction. Along with David Miller and Manan Vohra – who they retained – they have a good mix of Indian youngsters, experienced hands and overseas players with proven credentials. The one player to keep an eye on is Virender Sehwag, who has more than just one reason to deliver the goods; apart from throwing his hat back into the ring as he aims to regain a spot in the Indian team, the Delhi Dasher will also be keen to prove that he still has a lot to offer even if he is no longer the swashbuckling opener of the past.
Since rediscovering his form in IPL 2013, Mitchell Johnson has steamrolled opponents in various formats. He has bowled quick, has been accurate and incisive. And in a format where he has to bowl only four overs, expect him to go full throttle.
Including their two victories last season, Chennai Super Kings have an 8-4 win-loss record against Kings XI Punjab.
Chennai Super Kings’ Suresh Raina has so far featured in 99 IPL matches. If he takes the field in this match, he will become the first player to bag 100 IPL caps.
Suresh Raina is the top run-getter in the IPL with 2802 runs.
Kings XI Punjab will be seen in action next at Sharjah on April 20 when they square off against the Rajasthan Royals. Chennai Super Kings will hit the turf next on April 21 when they take on the Delhi Daredevils in the late evening match.
CSK coach says Smith and McCullum’s presence bring a distinct look to top order
By IPL Staff
Abu Dhabi 17 April 2014
Their first match in Pepsi IPL 2014, against Kings XI Punjab, in Abu Dhabi, will be a home game for the Chennai Super Kings. However, the only factor they can expect to be similar to their original home city is the high atmospheric temperature. As witnessed in the tournament opener, between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders, the wicket at the Zayed Cricket Stadium has a generous splattering of green on it, a sight the boys from Chennai are not used to.
On the eve of the match, coach Stephen Fleming said that the heat in the afternoon game might keep the ball from moving around as it did under the lights. “The first game here was an evening game and so there was a bit in the wicket for the bowlers. Ours will be an afternoon game and the heat will play a role,” said Fleming.
Players and coaches believe that the 2014 Player Auction has given all the franchises a level playing field this season. Fleming concurred, saying that KXIP are now a dangerous side with players like Virender Sehwag, Mitchell Johnson and George Bailey.
“KXIP have done very well in the auction; they’ve bought some good players,” he said. “In Bailey and Sehwag, they have powerful hitters, and with the likes of Maxwell and Johnson, they are a pretty good side. So, you are not going to get any easy games this IPL.”
CSK too wear a relatively new look this season, having traded solidity with firepower in their batting department. The likes of Michael Hussey and S Badrinath have been replaced by Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum in the top order. While Fleming admitted the team will miss the wisdom and guidance of Hussey, he was very sure of the balance of the current squad.
“Mike will be missed. These are the things you have to go through when you’re looking to pick a new side. You have to let go of some of the players you’d want,” Fleming said, adding, “What we have this year is a very powerful side; we have especially instilled more power in our top order this year with the likes of Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum coming in. These additions to the strong base of Indian players we already had, bring a fine balanced look to the squad.”
One of the more curious buys of the auction was CSK acquiring the services of Ashish Nehra, a veteran medium pacer who has been off the national selectors’ radar since many years owing to poor form and injuries. Fleming said that he had a specific role to play in the squad.
“We want him to lead the Indian pacers we have - the likes of Mohit Sharma and Ishwar Pandey,” the CSK coach said. “I think experienced Indian players are crucial and Ashish’s knowledge in these conditions will be vital.
“I think he too would have a point to prove. He’s had injuries in the last few years, which have kept him below par. My job is to get him to be the top quality bowler he was in the first couple of IPL seasons. We are excited to have him and he too is keen to fulfill his responsibility of grooming the two young Indian pacers we have.”
While keeping his selection cards close to his chest, Fleming did say that Dwayne Bravo was a doubtful starter in the first match. “Bravo is nursing an injury he picked up during the World Twenty20, so we are trying to get him back to full fitness,” Fleming said.