File image: Chennai Super Kings' Ruturaj Gaikwad and MS Dhoni during an IPL match in 2020 (Image: IPL, BCCI)
On a roll after back-to-back wins, the vintage Chennai Super Kings (CSK) would look to extend their winning run when they clash with struggling Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in their next Indian Premier League (IPL) match at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium on April 21.
After their abject campaign in UAE last year, the CSK started the season in an ominous fashion, losing to Delhi Capitals by seven wickets in a one-sided affair.
But since then, the MS Dhoni-led side has come on its own with the 'Captain Cool' making the most of his resources at the batting-friendly Wankhede Stadium. Deepak Chahar’s brilliance handed them their first win of the season against Punjab Kings it’s been a tale of two Englishmen — Moeen Ali and Sam Curran for the CSK.
Explosive all-rounder Ali has embraced the number three spot with knocks of 36 from 24 (vs Delhi Capitals), 46 off 31 (Punjab Kings) and 26 off 20 in his match-winning show against Rajasthan Royals on April 19. He is also quietly doing the job with his off-spin with Dhoni cleverly bringing him in the mix in the non-friendly conditions.
In their chase of 189, Jos Buttler had started to look ominous and sent a good-length ball from Ravindra Jadeja into the stands as the ball had to be replaced. Well aware that the dry ball would turn more than the dew-laden wet ball, Dhoni stepped up his attack with Jadeja and Ali from both ends.
While Jadeja dismissed the dangerous looking Buttler and Shivam Dube in one over, Ali accounted for David Miller, Riyan Parag and Chris Morris in his match-turning 3/7. The only brightspot of their abysmal campaign in UAE, youngster Sam Curran has also made some impact both with the bat and ball. Be it his 15-ball 34 against in a losing cause to Delhi Capitals, or his bowling in the Powerplay, Curran is giving Dhoni many options.
Against a side which will play its first match of the season at the Wankhede, smarting from two successive defeats, the Dhoni-led CSK will start as overwhelming favourites against KKR as Eoin Morgan is all set to ring in some changes to revive their campaign.
After their emphatic start against Sunrisers Hyderabad, KKR have slipped to fifth spot with defeats to Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore. And in both the defeats, the Morgan-led side had the upper hands but could not capitalise on their starts.
Varun Chakravarthy had dismissed Virat Kohli and Rajat Patidar in five balls to have RCB in a spot with 9/2 inside two overs. But in a bizarre decision, Morgan took the mystery spinner out of the attack and brought in Shakib-Al-Hasan as Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers powered them to 204/4. It remains to be seen if Morgan persists with Shakib or bring in seaming Aussie all-rounder Ben Cutting in the less spin-friendly conditions.
Morgan also has persisted with the veteran Harbhajan Singh and gave him the opening overs in all the three matches. Left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav could be a better option. Head coach Brendon McCullum has already hinted of making some changes after their 38-run defeat to RCB.
As for CSK, opener Ruturaj Gaikwad is enduring a terrible form with scores of 5, 5 and 10 and it remains to be seen whether he is given a longer rope by Dhoni who is not known to tinker his XI much.
KKR: Eoin Morgan (Captain), Dinesh Karthik, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Tim Seifert, Rinku Singh, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav, Shivam Mavi, Lockie Ferguson, Pat Cummins, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Sandeep Warrier, Prasidh Krishna, Rahul Tripathi, Varun Chakravarthy, Shakib Al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Vaibhav Arora, Harbhajan Singh, Karun Nair, Ben Cutting, Venkatesh Iyer and Pawan Negi
CSK: MS Dhoni (Captain and WK), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, KM Asif, Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, N Jagadeesan, Karn Sharma, Lungi Ngidi, Mitchell Santner, Ravindra Jadeja, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shardul Thakur, Sam Curran, Josh Hazlewood, R Sai Kishore, Robin Uthappa, Moeen Ali, Krishnappa Gowtham, Cheteshwar Pujara, M Harisankar Reddy, K Bhagath Varma and C Hari Nishaanth
This match starts at 7.30 pm IST. The first match of the day, PBKS vs SRH, starts at 3.30 pm IST.Follow Moneycontrol’s full coverage of IPL 2021 here