Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) have had different tales so far in the on-going IPL 2020. Both sides suffered heartbreaking defeats in the early part of the season but the Punjab side bolstered their playoffs chances by registering five consecutive victories.
The KL Rahul-led side may have suffered a shock defeat in its previous fixture against Rajasthan Royals (RR) but the dream to finish in the top-four list still prevails. KXIP will lock horns with the Yellow Army in a do-or-die game at Abu Dhabi on Sunday, with their chances of top-four finish hanging in jeopardy. A win against CSK still won't assure them a guaranteed playoffs berth.
If SunRisers Hyderabad (12 points from 13 games) win their remaining match and the loser of the Delhi Capitals (14) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (14) game finishes higher on the points table -- either in terms of points or by virtue of a superior Net Run Rate -- than KXIP, then KL Rahul side has to bid adieu to the tournament.
However, KXIP are currently sitting on the fifth position with 12 points with a negative Net Run Rate of 0.133. The franchise is in dire need of a massive victory to notch up its underwhelming NRR.
CSK, on the other hand, will be aiming to finish off their torrid season on a positive note, along with spoiling KXIP's party. Contrary to expectations, the MS Dhoni-led side is languishing on the bottom of the points table with just five wins in 13 games so far. The three-time champions, however, have got back to winning ways in their last two fixtures. They head to this clash after registering victories against RCB and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).
With skipper Rahul, the leading run-scorer of the tournament, and the flamboyant Chris Gayle coming good and the marauding Nicholas Pooran to follow at No 4, KXIP will fancy their chances at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium. It remains to be seen if Mayank Agarwal, who has missed three games, returns to the side.
KXIP's bowling has been instrumental in their recent wins. However, against the Royals, they leaked runs and were unable to pick wickets and skipper Rahul will hope his bowlers will be on top of their game against a CSK side, which cruised to a 10-wicket win in their previous meeting.
For CSK, 23-year-old Ruturaj Gaikwad has shown a lot of spark, notching up back-to-back fifties to set up the wins against RCB and KKR. All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja has been in fantastic form too, smashing boundaries and sixes towards the end of the innings.
The CSK bowling force, boosted by the inclusion of New Zealand spinner Mitchell Santer, has done well in the previous two outings and will look to keep the momentum going.
Kings XI Punjab: KL Rahul (C), Harpreet Brar, Ishan Porel, Mandeep Singh, James Neesham, Tajinder Singh, Chris Jordan, Karun Nair, Deepak Hooda, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Glenn Maxwell, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Sarfaraz Khan, Sheldon Cottrell, Mayank Agarwal, Mohammed Shami, Darshan Nalkande, Nicholas Pooran, Chris Gayle, Murugan Ashwin, Jagadeesha Suchith, Krishnappa Gowtham, Hardus Viljoen and Simran Singh.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (C), M Vijay, Ambati Rayudu, Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, Kedar Jadhav, 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.
The match starts at 3:30 pm IST.
(with PTI inputs)