In another bottom-of-the-table IPL 2020 clash, KL Rahul’s Kings XI Punjab take on MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings. The two teams are currently placed seventh and eighth on the IPL 2020 points table respectively.
Having won one from four matches each, both teams have had underwhelming starts to the tournament. While CSK failed to kick into third gear after their season opener, KXIP flattered to deceive on more than one occasion.
Rahul’s first game as captain, a last-ball thriller, went into the Super Over where the game came to a disappointing end as exhaustion seemed to catch up with his side, and as a result, KXIP handed the victory to the Delhi Capitals (DC).
MS Dhoni’s return to cricket after a year-long break saw him lead the team to victory over the defending champions, the Mumbai Indians. The last time the Chennai outfit lost three of their first four games, Sachin Tendulkar wasn’t a world champion yet. And now, here we are.
While one could argue that the Dhoni-led team did make it to the playoffs of IPL 2009, the signs are worrying for CSK. For three run-chases in a row, the think tank have got their strategies horribly wrong. In each of the three instances, the team have left it too late to attack, and have had too much to do right at the end.
The Kings XI Punjab, on the other hand, have faced two heartbreaking defeats after seemingly being in control of the game before it all slipped away. First, they were forced into a Super Over eliminator after needing just a run off their last three balls against DC.
A convincing win against Royal Challengers later, they’d be left brokenhearted again. This time after a Mayank Agarwal masterclass at the top of the order saw them set the Rajasthan Royals (RR) a very stiff 224 as the target. After being in control for most parts of the match, some Rahul Tewatia fireworks at the back end of the innings saw RR take the game away from KXIP right at the very end.
While there was more daylight between the Mumbai Indians and themselves in their next fixture, KXIP will want to get out of the rut they find themselves in, and as soon as possible.
With both teams desperate to get a win under their belt, the Chennai v Punjab fixture at the Dubai International Stadium may just be an absolute cracker.
IPL 2020: KXIP v CSK Match Prediction
Although Chennai’s middle-order have come under the scanner for not being able to keep up with the required run rate in their chases so far, the top-order, barring Faf du Plessis, have failed to fire regularly.
Questions are being asked of a seemingly ageing Shane Watson’s role at the top, and the voices calling for young Sam Curran to open only seem to get louder. Whether they choose to use his counter-attacking abilities to gain the upper-hand early in the innings or not remains to be seen.
Skipper Dhoni would also like to ask more of his bowlers, Ravindra Jadeja and Piyush Chawla, in particular, failing to impress. CSK do have the IPL 2019 Purple Cap winner waiting in the wings, in Imran Tahir. The wily leg-spinner is a proven wicket-taker, and every captain would like one during the middle-overs to stem any potential flow of runs.
The Kings XI Punjab team may just be guilty of being more top-heavy than initially expected. With their openers leading the race for the Orange Cap, the middle-order batsmen have not had too many chances to prove themselves.
When the opportunity did present itself, the likes of Glenn Maxwell and Karun Nair failed to make a case for themselves. Nicholas Pooran, however, did show off his abilities with the willow against MI, albeit in vain.
Whatever one says about the form that KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal find themselves in, it just may not be enough. With two centuries and two half-centuries between them in their four matches so far, bowlers could be forgiven for not wanting to bowl at these two. And, these two batsmen could very well be the difference when the two teams take the field today.
If the Punjab bowlers do enough to hold their own against what has been a less-than-impressive CSK batting line-up so far, it could very well be KXIP making a leap up the points table with a win in the second fixture in today’s IPL 2020 double-header.
Prediction: KXIP to win today’s match.
Published 04 Oct 2020, 12:29 IST