Lead at stake in top-of-table clash
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Start time 2000 local (1430 GMT)
Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab are No.1 and No. 2 in the points table, separated by a slender two-point margin. Kings XI, however, have a game in hand. While most IPL teams have holes in their batting line-up, such concerns barely merit second thought for these two sides. Much of their success in the tournament so far has revolved around the top-order's reliability. Glenn Maxwell is a bank for Kings XI Punjab at No.3, and Dwayne Smith is coming off his fourth half-century in seven matches for Chennai Super Kings.
Both teams had initially found bowling resources scarce, but the depth of their squads offered appropriate remedy. Both MS Dhoni and Stephen Fleming have lauded the balance of their side. Ishwar Pandey and Mohit Sharma have ensured their side can field a daunting set of overseas batsmen and have changed perception that spin is Super Kings' strong suit.
Their opposition has been infused with early venom in the form of Sandeep Sharma's accurate and appreciable swing. Against a line-up that has been buoyed by their opening stand - Smith and Brendon McCullum have scored 616 of Super Kings' 1139 runs so far - Sandeep and Mitchell Johnson might well be carrying the match on their shoulders during their first spell. A lack of early inroads contributed to Super Kings amassing 205 in Abu Dhabi, but Maxwell and Miller overhauled the target with an over the spare.
Kings XI are carrying a few straggling batsmen in their ranks. Virender Sehwag played some sparkling cameos but has not blossomed further. George Bailey has looked decidedly nervous, especially when introduced against spin, and is also keeping out a reputed performer in Shaun Marsh. With the season in full swing, it is time Kings XI found assistance for Maxwell and Miller.
Form guide (most recent first)
Chennai Super Kings: WWWWW
Kings XI Punjab: LWWWW
Watch out for…
The last time these two teams met Ben Hilfenhaus was relegated to the bench. Since gaining his opportunity, the Australian seamer has given Super Kings excellent balance. Although Cuttack is not the most inviting prospect for an outswing bowler, it is a testament to his performance with the new ball and at the death that the No.1-ranked T20 bowler Samuel Badree is yet to get a game.
Akshar Patel enjoyed a run of four successive matches, conceding well under six an over until he was flayed by Mumbai Indians. Without much variation, aside from the odd one that doesn't spin, his control of flight has surprised batsmen - especially those who go at him too hard, like the audaciously in-form Super Kings' openers.
Stats and trivia
- This will be the first time Chennai Super Kings will play in Cuttack
- A Super Kings-Kings XI match on average produces 325 runs
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Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo