Wins to both the Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders in their tournament openers has set up an exciting contest at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium under lights tomorrow night. Early complacency in a competition like the IPL is vital, and it appears both these sides are high on confidence after their respective wins.
You couldn’t have asked for a more thrilling match to open the 2018 Indian Premier League, in the end the Super Kings got the job done by a single run over a manic-Mumbai who couldn’t keep a rampaging-Dwayne Bravo down. The West Indian all-rounder struck a quick-fire 68 off just 30 balls to get his side right back in the contest after a shaky-top order performance, at the end of the day it was just enough to see Chennai reign supreme over last year’s champions after a two-year absence in the tournament. Despite it being an epic victory, Chennai would know deep down that they have a lot to improve on if they’re to challenge the Knight Riders who took down Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers. The top five batsmen only scored a combined-71 runs, while the bowling attack managed just four wickets in Mumbai’s innings. Clearly Dwayne Bravo was the only standout-batsman for the Super Kings which means the pressure is on Shane Watson, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni in particular to contribute more runs in the next game. Raina is one of the best batsmen of all time in the IPL, while MS Dhoni’s ability to finish an innings with a bang is priceless. The loss of Faf du Plessis before the match was a big blow for the visitors, instead of replacing him with another batsmen they went in with Mark Wood who got pummelled for 49 runs in his four overs. It was rare to see Bravo go wicketless as well, if it wasn’t for Watson’s two scalps Chennai might have been in big trouble. Another surprise was that Ravindra Jadeja bowled just the one over, he may have been a better over than Wood to bowl his full quota of overs in the end. Don’t be surprised to see a couple changes when they face the Knight Riders tomorrow.
Watch out for the Knight Riders in 2018, they’ve rocketed to the top of the IPL points table after winning their opening match by four wickets against Bangalore with some big names missing out. It may not have been prolific-striker Chris Lynn’s day, but it was certainly Sunil Narine’s who was at his pinch-hitting best at the top of the order for Kolkata with a destructive 19-ball onslaught which resulted in a half century to the West Indian spinner. Narine could almost be classed as an all-rounder now, he’s shown remarkable form at the top of the order over the past two years and is arguably the best pinch-hitting bowler going around. Nitish Rana had an all-round good game picking up the big wickets of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers in one over as a part-time bowler, than finished off his work with a fluent-34 in the middle order with the bat. Their batting order looks deceptively weaker compared to others in the IPL, but the likes of Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana and Dinesh Karthik are quite a handful at times. With Andre Russell batting in the lower order, Kolkata can be sure to finish the innings off with some flare. If Russell’s batting is a weapon, his bowling is an added bonus with the amount of pace he generates not to mention his knack of taking wickets. The look of the Knight Riders bowling attack that was named for this match was very-appealing on paper, they had plenty of options throughout which should again test Chennai’s batting line-up tomorrow. Despite being a bit expensive, Vinay Kumar picked up a handy two wickets along with former Aussie fast bowler Mitchell Johnson and Sunil Narine picking up one wicket each. It was a shock to see spinner-Kuldeep Yadav taken to the cleaners in his three overs, expect him to bounce back in style.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Chennai Super Kings | 5th match | Chennai
- Shane Watson
- Dwayne Bravo
- Imran Tahir
- Suresh Raina
- Murli Vijay
Wildcard pick – Ravindra Jadeja
Top 5 fantasy picks | Kolkata Knight Riders | 5th match | Chennai
- Sunil Narine
- Robin Uthappa
- Nitish Rana
- Vinay Kumar
- Chris Lynn
Wildcard pick – Andre Russell
Chennai Super Kings
Deciding against playing star-International signing Faf du Plessis, Chennai might give the South African captain a couple games in order for him to recover from a number of injury niggles he sustained over the past 2-3 months. Mark Wood’s performance with the ball wasn’t all that convincing, so he could make way for South African speedster Lungi Ngidi or Englishman Sam Billings depending on how they want to shape their starting XI. The Super Kings also have to decide whether to stick with veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh or bring in Karn Sharma who looked threatening with the ball in last year’s IPL.
Kolkata Knight Riders
It’s highly-likely that Kolkata will take an unchanged XI heading to Chennai, the only concern was Kuldeep Yadav who had a nightmare with the ball but should retain his spot given it’s only early in the tournament. Yadav was a regular in the Knight Riders side last year playing 12 games & picking up 12 wickets in the process.
Chennai Super Kings (possible) – 1. Shane Watson 2. Murli Vijay 3. Suresh Raina 4. Ambati Rayadu 5. MS Dhoni (c & wk) 6. Ravindra Jadeja 7. Dwayne Bravo 8. Deepak Chahar 9. Harbhajan Singh/Karn Sharma 10. Mark Wood/Lungi Ngidi 11. Imran Tahir.
Kolkata Knight Riders (possible) – 1. Sunil Narine 2. Chris Lynn 3. Robin Uthappa 4. Nitish Rana 5. Dinesh Karthik (c & wk) 6. Rinku Singh 7. Andre Russell 8. Vinay Kumar 9. Piyush Chawla 10. Mitchell Johnson 11. Kuldeep Yadav.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.