CSK Look To Shake Off Lethargy With Eyes On First Qualifier

Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - CSK look to shake off lethargy with eyes on first qualifier. Can KL Rahul and Co. spring a surprise against Dhoni's men?

CSK Look To Shake Off Lethargy With Eyes On First QualifierCan KL Rahul and Co. spring a surprise against Dhoni's men?


Intensity, rhythm, flow.It's what Stephen Fleming wants from his Chennai Super KIngs. It's what they didn't have in the last two games, which sullied the air of invincibility that they'd surprisingly built up with four wins on the bounce. CSK have spent the majority of this season thwarting predictions, and answering rhetorical questions in the affirmative. Can this squad really do well on the true pitches of Wankhede? An emphatic yes, with four wins in five. Can they avoid last season's fate with the shift to UAE?Again, yes, with four successive victories that put them right on track for a top-two finish. This is why the last two results will hurt.

The loss to RR in Abu Dhabi was down to the flat wicket and the emergence of dew, and was perhaps excusable, but the worrying performance came against Delhi Capitals, where they just couldn't accelerate through the middle. Fleming defended Dhoni's 27-ball 18 but urged his batsmen to be better at identifying the right par score on treacherous UAE pitches, which are only likely to get worse as playoffs begin.

While CSK are locked in, in a three-way tussle for top-two honours, PBKS are just about staying relevant in the race, with a herculean equation to attain and the stars to align like never before. KL Rahul's side, which has had yet another underwhelming campaign, need to overcome CSK by around 70 runs and then hope for fellow fourth-place aspirants KKR to lose by the same margin and for the most underperforming team this season – SRH – to beat Mumbai Indians.

PBKS' form guide in UAE – L W L W L – typifies the season and perhaps their current cycle, that is likely to end with a familiar personal consolation for KL Rahul being head and shoulders above everyone else in the squad, and up there with the best of the league.

When: Chennai Super Kings vs Punjab Kings, October 7, 15:30 IST

Where: Dubai International Stadium

What to expect: Batting continues to be a struggle on the tired pitches of UAE. Only one fresh wicket in Abu Dhabi served up an exception, but overall, scoring has been grim throughout.

Of the five 15:30 IST games so far in UAE, three have been won by the chasing side. The highest first-innings total has been KKR's 171 against CSK, which was chased down. Though the Dubai venue has offered a modicum of balance where 150-plus totals have been defended as well as scaled down, teams will step into bit of an unknown territory on Thursday in the first afternoon game at the venue.

Head to head: CSK have won 15 of the 24 meetings between the two sides. PBKS endured one of their worst batting performances in the reverse fixture this year – finishing on 106/8, losing by six wickets.

Team Watch

Chennai Super Kings

Injured/Unavailable: Dhoni can't rotate between his fast-bowling all-rounders anymore to manage them better as Sam Curran has been ruled out of the remainder of the tournament with an injury. Suresh Raina missed the last fixture with a ‘back issue' and could be afforded another game's rest before the playoffs.

Tactics & Match-ups: Faf du Plessis has mostly played second fiddle to his exceptional opening partner Ruturaj Gaikwad since IPL returned in UAE, but this games offers him a favourable match-up to take centrestage. The South African has always done well against Punjab's bowling spearhead Mohammed Shami.

Shami has bowled 38 balls at Du Plessis, getting hit for 69 and dismissing him just once. Du Plessis farming the strike against Shami in the PowerPlay would make sense, considering Ruturaj has faced 23 balls from the pacer and collected just 15 runs. Additionally, Du Plessis averages 59.78 and strikes at 146.20 against Punjab.

Probable XI: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Robin Uthappa/Suresh Raina, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, MS Dhoni, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Josh Hazlewood

Punjab Kings

Injured/Unavailable: Even if Raina doesn't pass fit, CSK will have a top-order left-hand option in Moeen Ali and a floater in Ravindra Jadeja, who can be pushed up the order to mess with the leg spin from Ravi Bishnoi and left arm spin from Harpreet Brar through the middle-overs. Rahul could look to negate that by bringing back Deepak Hooda into the side.

Tactics & Match-ups: The most glaringly obvious aspect of Punjab's game in the current cycle has been their dependence on Rahul. He once again has the aces to influence the fixture at the start, having scored 86 off 63 deliveries without getting dismissed against CSK's PowerPlay specialist Deepak Chahar.

Probable XI: KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Nicholas Pooran, Aiden Markram, Deepak Hooda, Shahrukh Khan, Moises Henriques, Harpreet Brar, Mohammed Shami, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh

Did you know?

– Since 2019, Faf du Plessis has scores of 54, 96, 87*, 48, 36* against PBKS

– KL Rahul is 28 runs away from becoming Punjab's highest-run getter in IPL – beating Shaun Marsh's tally of 2477 runs. For the fourth consecutive season, Rahul will finish on top of batting charts for Punjab, while also being in the hunt for the orange cap – which he won last season.

– Yet, Punjab are on the verge of becoming the first IPL side to not qualify for playoffs in seven successive seasons

– Dwayne Bravo has 23 wickets in 18 games against Punjab with a best of 4 for 22

What they said:

“We try to work very hard on keeping the intensity. We're on the back of three games in five days and a bit of travel, so there were probably clumsy mistakes from us, which was the most disappointing aspect, but in terms of the competition one of the key things is rebounding.” – CSK head coach Stephen Fleming.

“Honestly, our batting has been a bit of a let-down. I would be lying if I say it doesn't play on my mind (on having to bat long and with care), I play a role that the team demands, I don't enjoy it, but this is a team game and that's what the team expects from you, you'll have to do it. In T20s, the openers get the bulk of the runs, you don't get middle-order players scoring 500-600 runs in a season. But we do need players to make those 25-30 runs at a quick rate, the power game which Shahrukh has started to do for us.” – PBKS captain KL Rahul.

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