MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings (CSK) will step out on Thursday to lock horns with Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at Dubai International Stadium. While it will be a high-pressure match for the Kolkata side, the Yellow Army will just be playing for pride.
CSK, for the first time in their IPL history, missed the playoffs berth. The franchise hasn't been able to leave a mark this season, with most of their players failing to achieve consistency. With just four wins so far, Dhoni's men are languishing at the bottom of the points table, contrary to the expectations of fans.
No one could've imagined that CSK would be playing a game for pride at this stage of the season. Their last game against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) must've given them some much-needed confidence amid their torrid run. By delivering an impressive show with the bat, CSK pocketed the encounter by eight wickets. With two games to go, the Chennai side, one of the most followed IPL sides, will be having just one thing in mind-- put a smile on fans' face.
With Ruturaj Gaikwad hitting the right cord in his previous game, CSK would be less worried about their top-order woes. Youngster Sam Curran, who has been impressive throughout the season, will also aim to shine in the last two games. The England all-rounder has scored 173 runs this season along with scalping 13 wickets.
The young blood of CSK will also be accompanied by Imran Tahir, who has not been utilized much by the franchise this year. Tahir will likely be accompanied by Mitchell Santner and Ravindra Jadeja, while the pace attack shall be headed by Deepak Chahar and Monu Kumar.
Talking about the Eoin Morgan-led Kolkata side, it has been a topsy-turvy ride for them. From changing captaincy to putting up impressive performances, the men in purple and gold have registered a mixed performance this season. However, with two games to play, they're currently in a tussle for booking a playoffs spot. There's a possibility that multiple teams will end up on either 16 or 14 points, and will ultimately achieve a top-four finish.
In their last five games, KKR have registered three defeats-- making their road to playoffs a bit tough. In their previous game against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), they suffered an eight-wicket defeat and slipped off the fourth place. Currently sitting on the fifth position with 12 points, the two-time champions will try their best to clinch two vital points.
All eyes will be on Varun Chakravarthy, who has been in scintillating form with the bat. The 29-year-old has also received a maiden India call-up for the T20 series in Australia. KKR's batting unit will be led by Shubman Gill-Nitish Rana duo at the top while skipper Morgan will be assigned the responsibility of marshalling the middle order. Fans will be also hoping for their ex-skipper, Dinesh Karthik, to step up when the side is in dire need of a victory.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (captain, wicketkeeper), Murali 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
Kolkata Knight Riders: Eoin Morgan (captain), Dinesh Karthik (wicketkeeper), Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, Rinku Singh, Shubman Gill, Siddhesh Lad, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Pat Cummins, Prasidh Krishna, Sandeep Warrior, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarthy, Andre Russell, Chris Green, M Siddharth, Sunil Narine, Nikhil Naik, Tom Banton, Tim Seifert