Chennai, Punjab aim to stay afloat
Match factsThursday, May 17, Dharamsala
Start time 1600 (1030 GMT)
Big PictureChennai Super Kings are placed fourth on the points table with 17 points and need to win their last league game against Kings XI Punjab to put themselves in a strong position to qualify for the playoffs. A loss, however, would put them at the mercy of the others. Kings XI are also on the brink of elimination after their loss to Delhi Daredevils on Tuesday and would need two wins in two matches plus other favourable results to push them through to the top four.
The task for Kings XI is difficult as they face two in-form teams, Super Kings and Delhi Daredevils, and both matches will be played in Dharamsala, negating any home advantage that was available in Mohali. But Kings XI have fought well this season and surprised big teams, including Super Kings in Chennai. If their batting and bowling complement each other, Kings XI have the firepower to down any team. However, they would have to avoid the distraction of losing two of their players to the spot-fixing controversy.
Two years ago, Super Kings had arrived in Dharamsala under similar circumstances for their last league match. That day, MS Dhoni had launched an attack on Irfan Pathan's last over, and from there on, the team went on to win the IPL title. This year, Super Kings have been in must-win situations in the last few games and their batting, which has always been their strength, has finally started to come together while Ben Hilfenhaus has added spark to their bowling.
There is a chance of rain in Dharamsala, but both teams would hope that it stays away because in case of a washout, Kings XI will be knocked out while Super Kings' chances will get trickier.
Form guide(most recent first, completed games)
Kings XI Punjab : LWWLW
Chennai Super Kings: WWWLW
Players to watch
David Hussey has said that Parwinder Awana has been Kings XI's find of the season. Awana has continued to impress with the pace he generates off the pitch. He bowled another incisive spell in Delhi where he picked up three important wickets to give Kings XI a chance against Daredevils' strong batting.
Three matches ago, Ben Hilfenhaus was taken apart by Dwayne Smith in Mumbai. Since then, Hilfenhaus has won two back-to-back Man-of-the-Match awards and his pace and late swing has caused problems for all batsmen. The highlight of his last week's exploits was the wicket of Virender Sehwag, who was beaten by the late outswing and lost his off stump.
Stats and trivia
- In Super Kings' last three games, Ben Hilfenhaus' figures read 11-1-61-6.
- Super Kings' batsmen have scored five half-centuries in IPL 2012, which is the lowest for a team along with Pune Warriors. Royal Challengers Bangalore have 15 half-centuries - the most by a team this season.
Quotes"We will take one game at a time and won't think for the playoffs now. We have to win our next match."
MS Dhoni on Super Kings' chances of making the playoffs.
"Delhi are a very talented team. But we have shown the fans that we fight till the end and can still chase the finals."
David Hussey after Kings Xi's loss to Delhi Daredevils
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.