Chennai Super Kings v Kings XI Punjab, IPL 2014, Abu Dhabi April 17, 2014

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon


Match facts

Chennai v Punjab, Abu Dhabi Friday, April 18, 2014
Start time 1430 (1030 GMT, 1600 IST)

Play 04:01
Hattangadi: Chennai's Samuel Badree could be a handful

Big Picture

The clouds of controversy are swirling around Chennai, even as they are about to begin another season of the IPL. Time for them then, to embrace that "cocoon" of a familiar team environment around themselves. It is something their coach Stephen Fleming has spoken about, that despite all the uncertainties surrounding the franchise in the run-up to this season, getting together again has been soothing for him and his players. The environment is made still more familiar with the continuity Chennai have managed in their squad over the years, retaining more or less the same core group of players. And a leader who, in his seventh year as international captain and entering his seventh season as franchise captain, is still able to squeeze performances from himself and his players amid almost ever-present off-field drama.

Chennai have been able to purchase batting replacements for the loss of Michael Hussey and spin reinforcements in the form of Samuel Badree. They appear relatively light on quick bowlers, but if the pitch for their opening game against Punjab behaves anything like the one for the tournament opener did on Wednesday, the likes of Ben Hilfenhaus and young New Zealander Matt Henry will be difficult to tackle.

The tournament opener between Kolkata and Mumbai was played on a green pitch which had plenty of carry for the fast bowlers. It seemed a bit like the surface Punjab have often dished out at home in Mohali, and their new acquisition Mitchell Johnson would have loved to bowl on it.

Kolkata began slowly and were able to accelerate late with two set batsmen in the middle. It is an approach Chennai have used for years. It is to be seen what kind of approach Punjab will employ, with the utterly contrasting styles of Virender Sehwag and Cheteshwar Pujara.

This will be the first of five afternoon matches scheduled in the UAE, and though both of these sides will not be involved in the next four, other teams would like to keep an eye on the conditions, especially the heat, given the 230pm start.

Watch out for ...

With a List A average of 55.03, Cheteshwar Pujara has every right to feel aggrieved at being denied a run in the Indian ODI unit. However, a T20 strike-rate of 103 and an average of 19.80 suggest he lags behind when it comes to the shortest format. A similarly orthodox batsman such as Ajinkya Rahane has shown the type can succeed at T20. Can Pujara add another dimension to his batting this season?

R Ashwin had an outstanding World T20, one of the highlights being his dismissal of Hashim Amla with a carrom ball that turned like a legbreak. Ashwin took the delivery to another level in the tournament, using it liberally with tremendous control. He also experimented with a Sunil Narine-like action in the Asia Cup. What does he have in store this season?

Stats and trivia

  • Chennai have an emphatic 8-3 lead in the head-to-head with Punjab, with one game tied

  • Suresh Raina is set to become the first man to play a 100 IPL matches

    Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

  • Comments have now been closed for this article

    • Android on April 18, 2014, 10:20 GMT

      i love CSK team and also players.all players cangrats.all the players done a good and well perpaments u do.

    • Android on April 18, 2014, 10:03 GMT

      The Cool Captaincy of MS Dhoni is Remarkable..My XI:McCullum-Smith/Faf-Aparjith-Raina-bravo-Dhoni-Jadeja-Ashwin-Sharma-Nehra- Badree

    • Saravanan on April 18, 2014, 9:41 GMT

      My CSK XI: 1) Faf Du Plessis, 2) Brendon Mc Cullam, 3) Suresh Raina, 4) B. Apparajith, 5) Dwayne Bravo, 6) MS Dhoni (C+WK), 7) Ravindra Jadeja, 8) Ravichandran Ashwin, 9) Mohit Sharma, 10) Samuel Badree and 11) Ashish Nehra

    • Android on April 18, 2014, 9:11 GMT

      csk for spin k11p for pace.. batting both teams look great

    • Android on April 18, 2014, 9:01 GMT

      hope ishwar pandey gets a chance. .

    • Prince on April 18, 2014, 8:57 GMT

      CSK team I want for today : McCullum, Faf, Raina, B Aparahith, Bravo, Dhoni, Jadeja, Ashwin, Badree, Mohit Sharma, Nehra

    • Dummy4 on April 18, 2014, 8:51 GMT

      Chennai super king's strength is bowlers Ashwin,Badree and Jadeja ...weakness is their pace bowling.

    • Android on April 18, 2014, 8:46 GMT

      Well I do support pun jab because I am an hardcore fan of sewag I want him to come back in Indian eleven

    • Android on April 18, 2014, 8:39 GMT

      Smith Mc'cullum Raina Du plessis Dhoni Bravo Jadeja Ashwin Pandey hilfaneous/Badree

    • Sam on April 18, 2014, 8:31 GMT

      My Teams:

      CSK XI: (McCullum should open) 1 McCullum 2 D Smith 3 Raina 4 Du Plessis 5 Dwayne Bravo 6 Dhoni (C+WK) 7 Jadeja 8 Aparajith/Manhas 9 Ashwin 10 Mohit 11 Ishwar.

      KXIP XI: (S Marsh should have played in place of Baiey. But as Bailey is captain, dropping Marsh is very tough on him. But Maxwell can't be dropped as he brings a X-factor and can bowl a bit) 1 Sehwag 2 Pujara 3 Bailey (C) 4 Maxwell/S Marsh (if he's picked then he will open) 5 Miller 6 Saha (WK) 7 Akshar/Vohra/Gurkeerat 8 M Karthik 9 Johnson 10 Sandeep 11 Balaji.

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