The Chennai Super Kings appear to be the clear-frontrunners in this seasons IPL despite Hyderabad breathing right down their neck in second position, however MS Dhoni & his troops have been a class above the rest in 2018. Facing a fiery-Kolkata at Eden Gardens, even the very best of the competition finds it extremely tough to beat the Knight Riders at home which should make tomorrow night’s game an epic encounter!
The Knight Riders were quick to adjust their misfortunes after cutting their minor-losing streak off at two games with a hard-fought victory over the Royal Challengers in enemy territory. Only eight wickets were taken between the two sides collectively as batting proved a treat on Bengaluru’s flat track, favouring Australia’s Chris Lynn in particular who ticked off his second fifty of the tournament in a brilliantly-accumulated innings. Lynn’s unbeaten 62 was well-supported by Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa and skipper Dinesh Karthik who all chipped in with small-cameo knocks as the Knight Riders successfully chased down 176 runs. Unfortunately they lost Nitish Rana around the sixteenth over due to a back injury and was forced to retire hurt, he was looking solid until the incident occurred which might see him in doubt for tomorrow night’s matchup against the Super Kings. It’s great to have in form batsmen throughout the order, especially at the top which is where Kolkata have been at their best in IPL 11. It’s been the likes of Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa and Dinesh Karthik who are consistently contributing clumps of runs which is exactly what’s required of them, Nitish Rana and Andre Russell have also had their moments in the tournament despite lacking the same conversion rate as the others. The laconic Andre Russell may have missed out with the bat against RCB, but he made up for his short-departure with the ball as the West Indian all-rounder claimed 3/31 in three overs, Kolkata’s most productive bowler on the day. The Knight Riders main concern is that they still haven’t figured out how they intend on structuring their bowling unit, the seam bowlers have made very-little impact with their spinners left to pull a rabbit out of a hat to restrict opposition teams. Both Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Yadav have played their roles in the team perfectly, they just need some assistance from the fast bowlers who in all honesty look a bit flat & lack urgency in 2018.
As the Curtis Mayfield song says – keep on keeping on, and that’s the exact philosophy that the Chennai Super Kings have been playing by this season as they continue to plough through their fixture with wins. If you took a glimpse at their top order, it becomes quite obvious as to why this Super Kings outfit is sitting on top of the IPL points table, and the captain has been a huge part of the reason why they find themselves hovering above their competition. MS Dhoni has been both the brains & muscle behind Chennai’s startling-resurrection in the franchise with his on field leadership as a tactical genius, and of course his explosive-finishing with the bat where he’s polished off a good number of teams in IPL 11 already. Averaging an outstanding 71.50 with a total of 286 runs this season, MS not only features in the elite category of batsmen in IPL 11, but remains the No. 1 finisher in the game who can ride that wave of emotion and get his team over the line in high-pressure situations. Even Dhoni would admit that he’d be nothing without his teammates setting the platform above him, Shane Watson has punched out a handful of big scores while Ambati Rayudu is having a stellar-campaign at his new home currently leading the orange cap award for the most runs in 2018. Delving into his statistics, Rayudu is averaging 46.25 with the willow in IPL 11 and striking at a career-best 156.11 with five 40+ scores. Suresh Raina is slowly-but-surely returning to his best as well along with Faf du Plessis who is one of Chennai’s most crisp-ball strikers when he gets his eye in, I can confidently say that their batting is single-handedly doing the job for them this year. It’s astonishing really, Chennai have severely–underperformed with the ball yet continue to win matches, most teams would be getting put to the sword each game if that were the case. Express-pace bowler Lungi Ngidi is the most recent overseas signing to impress with the ball for the Super Kings, the South African was just about the only bowler who kept his bowling figures in tact against Delhi with 1/26.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Kolkata Knight Riders | 33rd match | Kolkata
- Chris Lynn
- Andre Russell
- Robin Uthappa
- Dinesh Karthik
- Sunil Narine
Wildcard pick – Piyush Chawla
Top 5 fantasy picks | Chennai Super Kings | 33rd match | Kolkata
- Ambati Rayudu
- MS Dhoni
- Suresh Raina
- Lungi Ngidi
- KM Asif
Wildcard pick – Faf du Plessis
Kolkata Knight Riders
Nitish Rana’s “back soreness” could keep him out of action with the extent of the injury unknown, given that he retired hurt in the Knight Riders last match he’s likely to miss tomorrow night’s clash against Chennai. Former Aussie quick Mitchell Johnson has had two average showings in a row with the ball and could be easily replaced by Tom Curran who had some success earlier in the tournament, a straight swap would be the most probable outcome. Shivam Mavi could potentially be replaced by 22-year-old medium pacer Prasidh Krishna if they’re looking for more genuine wicket takers in the XI, their seamers have let them down substantially in 2018.
Chennai Super Kings
Seamer Deepak Chahar is still a week or so away according to Chennai’s injury update last Saturday which should give KM Asif another opportunity to impress in front of a packed Kolkata crowd at Eden Gardens. The Super Kings took three specialist spinners into the game against Delhi on Monday, the result of that ended up being Jadeja and Harbhajan bowling four overs each while Karn Sharma wasn’t used at all. It was always going to be tough to utilize three spinners in the one game, and as a result could see Shardul Thakur return as the third specialist seamer in place of one of the slow bowlers. Chennai might also want to think about giving powerhouse-English all-rounder David Willey a bite at the cherry given his explosive hitting and searing pace with the ball.
Kolkata Knight Riders (possible) – 1. Chris Lynn 2. Sunil Narine 3. Robin Uthappa 4. Nitish Rana/Ishank Jaggi/Rinku Singh 5. Dinesh Karthik (c & wk) 6. Andre Russell 7. Shubman Gill 8. Shivam Mavi/Prasidh Krishna 9. Tom Curran 10. Piyush Chawla 11. Kuldeep Yadav.
Chennai Super Kings (possible) – 1. Shane Watson 2. Faf du Plessis 3. Suresh Raina 4. Ambati Rayudu 5. MS Dhoni (c & wk) 6. Ravindra Jadeja 7. Dwayne Bravo/David Willey 8. Harbhajan Singh/Karn Sharma 9. Shardul Thakur 10. KM Asif 11. Lungi Ngidi.
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.