Yesterday, once more
Here we are back to Dinesh Karthik vs. MS Dhoni contest again.
In the beginning of this century, both were competing for a wicketkeeper-batsman place in the Indian team. Even though, Karthik was first to get there what happened next doesn’t need any elaboration.
Karthik finally has got the captaincy in IPL but not of his home city. Something Dhoni’s phenomenal success made sure that it didn’t even come up as a possibility.
While the result of this match or this tournament hardly matters to Dhoni, for Karthik it has the potential of his sacking from captaincy - mid-way. That is, if KKR loses and he doesn’t score as he has been struggling as a batsman.
Already, there are murmurs within and outside the team to elevate England’s world cup winning captain Eoin Morgan in place of Karthik. So, individually, Karthik is under more pressure than Dhoni, almost a similar kind of scenario two decades back when no one expected Dhoni to break into Indian cricket from Jharkhand while Karthik was touted as the future wicket-keeper for India.
Batting blues for captains
However, the contextual similarities end there. From a batting point of view, Karthik has been changing his positions from 3, 4 and 5 but success has eluded him.
Dhoni, despite all the debate hasn’t batted in the top-order despite missing Suresh Raina or Ambati Rayudu in couple of matches due to injury. But, he has made personal runs which ultimately have proved inadequate to win matches for his team.
In this match, Dhoni is likely to be challenged by the pace-spin overseas combination of Pat Cummins and Sunil Narine (Dhoni is yet to hit a four off Narine's bowling in IPL).
Common debate for an overseas pro
While KKR may think of replacing Narine (just 27 runs in 31 balls in this IPL as an opener) as his bowling power is also diminishing. On the other hand, CSK has been strangely shy of bringing in the most successful bowler of 2019, Imran Tahir.
Can both teams make a change in batting order to surprise the opponent? If Tom Curran has been a refreshing sight for his free-flowing clean hits down the order for CSK, Rahul Tripathi also showed in the last match that he may be batting way too down the order.
Historically, CSK has dominated the KKR and are looking like back in form, but as the points table suggests that there is little to choose between the teams who have got equal points (4) so far in the tournament.
Likely XI Chennai Super Kings: 1 Shane Watson, 2 Faf du Plessis, 3 Ambati Rayudu, 4 Kedar Jadhav, 5 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 Sam Curran, 9 Shardul Thakur, 10 Deepak Chahar, 11 Piyush Chawla
Likely XI Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Sunil Narine, 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Nitish Rana, 4 Dinesh Karthik (capt & wk), 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Andre Russell, 7 Rahul Tripathi, 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Kamlesh Nagarkoti, 10 Shivam Mavi, 11 Varun Chakravarthy
(Vimal Kumar is a senior sports journalist who has covered multiple cricket world cups and Rio Olympics in the last two decades. Vimal is also the author of Sachin: Cricketer Of The Century and The Cricket Fanatic’s Essential Guide.)Follow Moneycontrol’s full coverage of IPL 2020 here