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May 30, 2008
Match factsSaturday, May 31
The Big Picture
Kings XI Punjab may start as overwhelming favourites to meet Rajasthan Royals in the final but if there's one team they might have wanted to avoid in the semi-finals it would probably have been Chennai Super Kings. Punjab have been nearly unstoppable in the competition but Chennai have found a way to get past them twice - first on the back of Michael Hussey's century in Mohali and later thanks to L Balaji's five-wicket haul in Chennai.
However, it would require a special effort for Chennai to make it three in three. A fine mix of foreign batsmen and Indian bowlers makes Punjab the most balanced side in the tournament. Shaun Marsh has consistently set up launch pads and Yuvraj Singh couldn't have regained his touch at a better time - as he did with a ballistic 16-ball 49 in the final league match against Rajasthan.
Chennai's batting has been a worry ever since Matthew Hayden and Hussey left and things have got trickier with the departure of Stephen Fleming. Albie Morkel has provided much needed stability but it may ultimately require Suresh Raina and Mahendra Singh Dhoni to guide them to a winning total.
Tournament positionKings XI Punjab: P14, W10, L4, NRR +0.509
Form (last five completed matches, most recent first)Kings XI Punjab: WLWWW
Watch out for ...
At the end of Punjab's previous game, the out-of-touch Yuvraj had claimed that they had found the "right combination". James Hopes, who was struggling with the bat, came good and he along with Irfan Pathan offer flexibility. Mahela Jayawardene missed the last game but he could return, especially given the threat Murali poses. Luke Pomersbach may have to make way but he, in his defence, can point to the half-century he made on this ground a few weeks ago.
Kings XI Punjab (likely) 1 Shaun Marsh, 2 James Hopes, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Yuvraj Singh (capt), 5 Mahela Jayawardene, 6 Tanmay Srivatsava, 7 Irfan Pathan, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 Ramesh Powar, 10 VRV Singh, 11 Sreesanth.
Fleming's absence may provide an opening for S Vidyut or S Anirudha (the son of former Indian opener Kris Srikkanth) unless Chennai decide to push Abhinav Mukund to the top of the order. Chamara Kapugedera would be expected to beef up the middle order. The rest of the line-up is likely to be unchanged from the one that won comprehensively against Deccan Chargers.
Chennai Super Kings (likely) 1 Parthiv Patel (wk), 2 S Vidyut, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), 5 Chamara Kapugedera, 6 S Badrinath, 7 Albie Morkel, 8 Manpreet Gony, 9 L Balaji, 10 Muttiah Muralitharan, 11 Makhaya Ntini.
Stats and trivia
"We had beaten them early in the tournament when we had our strongest team and later on even without the overseas players we still managed to win. It's an advantage to go into the semi-finals against them with this record."
Kepler Wessels, the Chennai coach, talks up his team's prospects.
"It's a different ground and circumstances are different. We are coming into the game with greater confidence and will be looking to do our best with ball, bat and on the field."
Tom Moody, the Punjab coach, isn't reading too much into his side's previous losses against Chennai.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at CricinfoFeeds: Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
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