Four matches into the season, Chennai Super Kings find themselves in extremely unfamiliar territory. The franchise, which is considered the most consistent in the tournament, are currently at the bottom of the table with three successive losses. In their previous match against SRH, the Super Kings came close to ending the winless run but suffered a seven-run defeat.
On Friday, the CSK welcomed the arrivals of Ambati Rayudu and Dwayne Bravo in the playing XI, who were sidelined with injuries. However, the same problems continued to haunt CSK which saw them lose their previous two matches.
Low scoring rate in the first few overs left the finishers with too much to do, which was evident against SRH where Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni - despite the best of their efforts, failed to guide CSK home.
Much is said about Dhoni's approach in the chase too - with him scoring at significantly low pace when the asking rate continued to tower up. When he decided to go after the attack, the required run-rate went to unprecedented levels. If the team can manage enough runs in the middle overs, it will give some cushion to Dhoni and other capable batsmen down the order.
Kings XI Punjab, meanwhile, have seen brilliant individual performances from their players, but they have failed to step up as a team so far. Poor decision-making in key moments by their players has resulted in KXIP reeling at seventh, only above CSK on Net Run Rate (NRR). There has been too much reliance on the opening order of Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul at KXIP, who are currently the top scorers in this season.
The limited bowling resource has also been a concern for KXIP. Barring Mohammed Shami who holds the purple cap and Sheldon Cottrell who did well to regain confidence since being hit for 30 runs in an over by RR's Rahul Tewatia, none of the bowlers have inspired the confidence to stop the batsmen so far.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (captain, wk), M Vijay, Ambati Rayudu, Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, Kedar Jadhav, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Lungi Ngidi, Deepak Chahar, Piyush Chawla, Imran Tahir, Mitchell Santner, Josh Hazlewood, Shardul Thakur, Sam Curran, N Jagadeesan, KM Asif, Monu Kumar, R Sai Kishore, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Karn Sharma.
Kings XI Punjab: KL Rahul (c), Mayank Agarwal, Sheldon Cottrell, Chris Gayle, Glenn Maxwell, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Karun Nair, James Neesham, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Ishan Porel, Arshdeep Singh, Murugan Ashwin, Krishnappa Gowtham, Harpreet Brar, Deepak Hooda, Chris Jordan, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh, Darshan Nalkande, Ravi Bishnoi, Simran Singh (wk), Jagadeesha Suchith, Tajinder Singh, Hardus Viljoen.