Fresh from a nail-biting four-run victory over Rajasthan Royals in their campaign opener, Punjab will look to get into a rhythm against the Yellow Brigade, still licking their wounds from the seven-wicket loss to Delhi Capitals in their first game.
KL’s happy hunting ground
94, 100 not out and 91….those are Punjab skipper Rahul’s last three IPL scores at the Wankhede, and the 28-year-old will look to continue his love affair with the stadium. The Karnataka batsman averages in excess of 84 in T20 games played at the venue.
In the 2018 edition, Punjab came to the Wankhede after having suffered a drubbing at the hands of Royal Challengers Bangalore, and KL turned the tide with a brilliant 94 against the Mumbai Indians. Even in the 2021 IPL opener against Rajasthan, Rahul came up with a match-winning 91, after a rather forgettable T20I series against England, where he had managed just 15 runs in four outings.
Aggression the key
KL praised the way Deepak Hooda approached his innings, as his quickfire half century against Rajasthan, also seemed to have solved their middle order crisis. In the previous seasons, Punjab missed the kind of firepower, especially on occasions when the top order had failed to deliver. With Chris Gayle also in good hitting form, it could well be another 200-plus total if one of the top four batters get going against a hapless CSK attack.
Impressive death bowling
Punjab’s major concern in the few seasons has been their death bowling, an area which they specially emphasized on during the mini auction. While their latest additions – Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith did impress, but it was the left-armer Arshdeep Singh, who stood out in the opening match.
With pace spearhead Mohammed Shami getting the early breakthroughs and spinner Murugan Ashwin applying the brakes in the middle overs, the task is cut out for the likes of Arshdeep and the Aussie duo of Richardson and Meredith.
CSK, on the other hand, will be banking on their trusted warriors – Suresh Raina, skipper Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja — to anchor the team’s revival. After a lackluster 2020 season, Chennai would surely have hoped for a better start this season, but lack of quality fast bowlers certainly threw a spanner.
CSK’s bowling woes
Chennai head coach Stephen Fleming did admit that the absence of a quality overseas fast bowler robbed them of a positive start. With Jason Behrendorff and South Africa’s Lungi Ngidi unlikely to feature against Punjab, it means Mahendra Singh Dhoni will once again have to rely on the pace trio of Sam Curran, Shardul Thakur and Dwayne Bravo.
Curran’s possible promotion
Primarily in the team as a bowler, Sam Curran’s lusty blows with the bat did help CSK get close to 190 in their opener, and with Dhoni being the unpredictable captain he is, it won’t be surprising if the 22-year-old Englishman is promoted as an opener in place of a misfiring Faf du Plessis, to accommodate leg-spinner Imran Tahir and bolster the bowling unit.