For the first time in their history, Chennai Super Kings have lost their opening two matches of an IPL campaign, and Ravindra Jadeja's team will be keen to get off the mark against Punjab Kings on Sunday.
On a batting friendly pitch at the Brabourne Stadium, Dwayne Bravo and Dwaine Pretorius will be crucial for the Super Kings' prospects, given that they lack quality pace options. The Super Kings have struggled in the absence of Deepak Chahar, as the team has been missing a bowler who can strike inside the first six overs - a role in which Chahar flourished. In both their losses, against Kolkata Knight Riders
and Lucknow Super Giants
, none of the Super Kings pacers took a wicket during that phase; with Adam Milne and Chris Jordan both unavailable, Mukesh Choudhary and Tushar Deshpande in particular returned expensive figures against the Super Giants.
The Kings, meanwhile, are coming off a loss against the Knight Riders having aced a chase
of 206 in their first match against Royal Challengers Bangalore. The Kings' bowlers could do with some improvement, as they have taken a total of just six wickets from two matches.
While Kagiso Rabada's presence will be a boost, and Rahul Chahar has kept batters quiet, the Kings will be expecting more from the likes of Arshdeep Singh and Harpreet Brar.
On paper, both teams have a solid batting line-up, having each posted 200-plus scores this season already. Expect another run-fest on Sunday.
In the news
Jonny Bairstow is set to return to the Kings' XI, having completed his quarantine upon arrival from the Caribbean. The aggressive England batter will mostly replace West Indies allrounder Odean Smith. Raj Bawa could make way for pacer Sandeep Sharma.
Adam Milne missed the Super Kings' second game due to injury, but according to head coach Stephen Fleming, he is "not too far away" from returning. If he is fit, the New Zealand quick is likely to replace one of Choudhary or Deshpande.
Chennai Super Kings : 1 Ruturaj Gaikwad, 2 Robin Uthappa, 3 Moeen Ali, 4 Shivam Dube, 5 Ambati Rayudu, 6 Ravindra Jadeja (capt), 7 MS Dhoni (wk), 8 Dwayne Bravo, 9 Dwaine Pretorious, 10 Adam Milne, 11 Tushar Deshpande/Mukesh Choudhary
Punjab Kings: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Mayank Agarwal (capt), 3 Bhanuka Rajapaksa (wk), 4 Liam Livingstone, 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 M Shahrukh Khan, 7 Harpreet Brar, 8 Kagiso Rabada, 9 Rahul Chahar, 10 Sandeep Sharma, 11 Arshdeep Singh
Rahul Chahar has been exceptional against left-handers, so will be trusted against Moeen Ali, Shivam Dube and Jadeja. Among spinners bowling to left-handers in India since 2019, he has taken 11 wickets, the second-most after Rashid Khan and has the best strike rate.
Stats that matter
Since 2019, no bowler has taken more wickets than Rabada in the IPL. Also, in the death overs, the South African has taken the most wickets in this period. The Super Kings have been the better team in this head-to-head, winning 15 out of 25 games against the Kings. Also since 2018, the Super Kings have won five out of eight matches against the Kings. Shikhar Dhawan averages 40+ against the Super Kings in the IPL, and 66.8 since the 2020 edition.
Srinidhi Ramanujam is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo