Chennai Super Kings would once again seek inspiration from the talisman Mahendra Singh Dhoni as they kept an eye on improvement on multiple fronts as they take on the Punjab Kings in the IPL on Sunday. CSK have won two of their seven matches so far, while Punjab Kings are slightly better with three wins from seven matches. While PBKS is in eighth place, CSK occupies the penultimate place in the IPL points table.
Defending champion CSK faltered in all departments this season. They did not play the cricket they are known for under skipper Ravindra Jadeja who was unable to lead from the front.
However, they will be approaching their next match, encouraged by their three wicket win against the lowest seeded Mumbai Indians, courtesy of Dhoni, who proved once again that he is the best finisher in the business.
The wicketkeeper batter turned back the clock to write a memorable three-wicket win, after a heart-pounding finish in which he hit a six and two fours in the final to end the game.
Bowling has been a major concern for CSK, but the former champions put on a good show against Mumbai with rookie pacer Mukesh Choudhary, who struggled under pressure all season, wreaking havoc with the new ball and taking three wickets.
Longtime warhorse Dwayne Bravo remains a reliable servant to the team, taking wickets when entrusted with the ball.
Skipper Jadeja is having a disappointing bat and ball season, while the addition of Sri Lankan spinner Maheesh Theekshana has bolstered the severely depleted bowling unit that is missing Deepak Chahar and Adam Milne.
Young Ruturaj Gaikwad, who has had a miserable season so far apart from the 73 against Gujarat Titans, will have to stand up and deliver with the bat.
The all-rounders Moeen Ali and Shivam Dube will also have to take more responsibility.
Hanging in the playoffs race through the skin of their teeth, a defeat on Monday will put CSK on the brink of elimination.
On the other hand, Punjab will suffer from the loss of nine wicket to Delhi Capitals.
Punjab’s batting unit has been plagued with inconsistency all season. While they brag about power hitters like Shikhar Dhawan, Liam Livinstone and Shah Rukh Khan, consistency is something they would strive for.
Jonny Bairstow has failed to shoot in the four games he has played and it will be seen if he will be replaced by Sri Lankan Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who far outperformed the Englishman.
Punjab has a strong and varied bowling attack led by South African fast Kagiso Rabada, who was right on the money.
Arshdeep Singh has also been brilliant. While the 23-year-old hasn’t taken too many wickets, he has bowled economically, but Vaibhav Arora needs to step up.
The role of pace bowling all-rounder Odean Smith will be crucial. The West Indian has not been at his best in the IPL so far.
Teams (of): Punjab Kings: Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, Arshdeep Singh, Kagiso Rabada, Jonny Bairstow, Rahul Chahar, Harpreet Brar, Shahrukh Khan, Prabhsimran Singh, Jitesh Sharma, Ishan Porel, Liam Livingstone, Odean Smith, Sandeep Sharma, Raj Angad Bawa, Rishi Dhawan, Prerak Mankad, Vaibhav Arora, Writtick Chatterjee, Baltej Dhanda, Ansh Patel, Nathan Ellis, Atharva Taide, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Benny Howell.
Chennai Super Kings: Ravindra Jadeja (Captain), MS Dhoni, Moeen Ali, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Dwayne Bravo, Ambati Rayadu, Robin Uthappa, Mitchell Santner, Chris Jordan, Adam Milne, Devon Conway, Shivam Dube, Dwaine Pretorius, Maheesh Theekshana, Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Tushar Deshpande, KM Asif, C Hari Nishaanth, N Jagadeesan, Subranshu Senapati, K Bhagath Verma, Prashant Solanki, Simarjeet Singh, Mukesh Choudhary.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)