The Chennai Super Kings will have the opportunity to firm up their position at the top of the VVO IPL 2018 standings when they take on the Kolkata Knight Riders in Match 33.
The Knight Riders, who have four wins and as many losses, have blown hot and cold. In their most recent match though, they clinched two points after defeating Royal Challengers Bangalore in Bengaluru. Heading into this match, KKR have one additional issue to address; the middle-order batsman Nitish Rana appears to be a doubtful starter – after the batsman reported back spasms and retired hurt in the previous match. KKR are limited in the number of options they have, and if Rana hasn’t recovered completely, it could mean the season’s first outing for one of Ishank Jaggi or Apoorv Wankhade.
The Super Kings have looked a complete side, with several individuals making match-winning contributions along the way. The standout feature has been the team’s ability to clinch the key moments and finish off matches. In their most-recent fixture, they blitzed their way to their fourth 200-plus total of the season and then kept their opponents Delhi Daredevils to 15 runs short of what they needed. CSK have few things to worry about, and Dhoni’s decision-making – while hard to assign a logic to – has been magical.
CSK are definitely the more comfortable of the two teams at the moment, and KKR, who are just about in the top four, will want the two points to stay in the top four and create a distance with the teams in the bottom half.
3May 2018, 2000Hrs (IST)
Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa and Dinesh Karthik would have to be identified as KKR’s key batsmen. Lynn has had his difficulties against the spinners, but he has applied and shown the intent to persevere till he has the opportunity to feast on the quicks. Uthappa has struck the ball crisply, but he is yet to convert his starts to anything significant; the 32-year old has five scores of 30 or more, yet his highest score is 48. Karthik, as has been the case with him right through his career, brings with him a sense of purpose and urgency whenever he walks out to bat.
Chennai Super Kings are one power-packed batting line-up. Shane Watson is one of the season’s two centurions and comes into this match with confidence of a scintillating 78 against the Daredevils. Ambati Rayudu’s season is getting better with every outing. The 32-year old is batting with a freedom one has not seen previously; until last season, his strike-rate in the IPL was 126.16, while this season, his 370 runs have been scored at a strike-rate of 156.11.
And then, on current form, how does one not mention MS Dhoni’s name. The CSK captain has turned the clock back a few years and is striking the ball as well as he has ever done. It is not just his strike-rate of 169.23, but the fact that he seems to have an answer to anything dished out at him; he has hit massively big sixes down the ground, brought out the pull shot and even played an astonishing steer to deposit a full length delivery over the point boundary.
The KKR spin trio have been able to hold their own, though the conditions at the Eden Gardens have not been as supportive to their ilk as it once was. Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav have together picked up 14 wickets in the four matches at the Eden Gardens – exactly twice the number of wickets taken by KKR’s quick bowlers. The expectations of the spin trio will be a tad higher also because of the opposition’s poor record against the slower bowlers.
For CSK, the two debutants - Lungi Ngidi and KM Asif – were impressive in their previous match; CSK will hope the pair can continue to make an impression with the ball and support Dwayne Bravo and Shardul Thakur.
Team Head to Head
Overall: Matches – 17, Kolkata Knight Riders won – 6, Chennai Super Kings won – 11
At the Wankhede Stadium: Matches – 7, Kolkata Knight Riders won – 3, Chennai Super Kings won – 4
In the last five meetings between these teams, the trend has been for the home teams to prevail. The Chennai Super Kings emerged victors in Chennai and Ranchi, while KKR prevailed in the matches played in Kolkata.
Chennai Super Kings’ have lost 18 wickets alike to pace and spin in VIVO IPL 2018; however, while they have scored at the rate of 10.25 against the quicks, their scoring rate is nearly two runs less – 8.26 – against the spinners.
Off the 18 wickets CSK have lost to spinners, 12 have been to wrist spinners: 11 to leg-spinners and 1 to a chinaman bowler.
Chennai Super Kings are the only team to have not bowled a No Ball so far in VIVO IPL 2018.
In their last four matches, KKR’s opponents have posted opening partnerships of 54, 116, 59 & 67.
The Kolkata Knight Riders will play their next two matches against the Mumbai Indians: the first one in Mumbai (May 6) and the return fixture in Kolkata (May 9). The Chennai Super Kings meanwhile head back to their adopted home ground – Pune – to take on Royal Challengers Bangalore on May 5.