A battle of batting might in Kochi
Monday, April 18
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Kochi Tuskers Kerala are on a high after stunning the Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede, a result which their captain Mahela Jayawardene believes will make other teams take Kochi seriously. His side had come close to victory in both their opening matches before fading away in the last few overs, but there was no such problem against Mumbai as their big-name batsmen, Brendon McCullum and Jayawardene, launched a superb counterattack to spoil the Mumbai party after Sachin Tendulkar's century.
Kochi need a repeat dose on Monday since they now come up against another heavyweight in the competition, defending champions Chennai Super Kings. MS Dhoni and his team returned to winning ways against Royal Challengers Bangalore, recovering from the pasting they received at the hands of Paul Valthaty earlier in the week.
With the versatile Michael Hussey reinforcing an already formidable Chennai batting line-up, Kochi's patchy bowling attack have a challenge on their hands. Kochi too have several accomplished Twenty20 batsmen, but their bowling resources are less impressive than Chennai's.
The Chennai Super Kings are performing so well that they can afford to leave out fast bowler Dougie Bollinger, one of the architects of their victorious campaign last season. With Tim Southee proving a canny bowler at the death, perhaps the only route for Bollinger to get a game is if there is a track suiting fast bowlers, in which case Chennai will contemplate bringing him in place of offspinner Suraj Randiv.
If VVS Laxman recovers in time from his back problem, Kochi will have to ponder how to accommodate him in the line-up, since Jayawardene slotted in perfectly as an opener in the Mumbai game. Muttiah Muralitharan was another player who wasn't in the XI at the Wankhede, and Kochi need to decide whether they want the batting back-up that Thisara Perera provides or the offspin of Murali.
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In the spotlight
Ravindra Jadeja missed out on the previous IPL due to contract violations, but has made a terrific start this season: contributing with the bat in all three matches, including consecutive sixes to finish off Mumbai, and he has been economical with the ball as well in a team struggling to control the runs.
The highest run-getter in IPLs, Suresh Raina, has had a quiet time so far this season. He played some vital knocks in the World Cup, and Chennai will hope that his form resurfaces in the IPL as well.
- R Ashwin has the best economy rate in IPL history - 6.12 (min. 250 deliveries)
- Suresh Raina's 27 catches is the most by any fielder in the IPL
"If we can beat Mumbai Indians in Mumbai, we can beat anyone."
"I think their strength is that they're all three very different spinners. They're very different to face. They all have different subtleties and different deliveries."
Michael Hussey on Chennai's slow-bowling trio of R Ashwin, Suraj Randiv and Shadab Jakati
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo