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Super Kings looks to return to winning ways against KKR

The likes of Mitchell Starc and Harshit Rana can pose serious questions otherwise.

Super Kings looks to return to winning ways against KKR

MS Dhoni has a hit at the nets (Photo/Hemanathan M)

CHENNAI: The rivalry week of the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) continues on Monday with defending champion Chennai Super Kings (CSK) taking on two-time winner Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at the M A Chidambaram stadium.

CSK has played four games so far under its new captain Ruturaj Gaikwad and has lost two consecutive matches. It will be coming into this match on the back of a defeat against Sunrisers Hyderabad. KKR, on the other hand, remains undefeated in the new season, having won all three matches it has played so far.

CSK’s batters were caught off-guard by Mukesh Kumar’s bowling brilliance at Visakhapatnam as Delhi beat it by a margin of 20 runs. It succumbed at Hyderabad, putting up a total of 165 runs on the board, steering it to a second loss on the trot. To add to the woes, CSK will be missing its ace bowler Mustafizur Rahman, who has picked up seven wickets and stands second in the purple cap race, and Matheesha Pathirana, who picked up a niggle ahead of the game against SRH.

“We want to be conservative. Whether Pathirana will be playing the next game or not will be determined by the physios. We want to make sure we don’t risk four games to ensure he plays one. And Mustafizur, we’re not sure yet just in terms of timing when he’d be back; it is not in our hands,” said Eric Simmons, bowling consultant, CSK, during the pre-match press conference.

In terms of batting, CSK’s opening pair didn’t accumulate many runs in its previous two outings, and it’ll be important for the batters to cover ground, especially against KKR’s bowling unit. The likes of Mitchell Starc and Harshit Rana can pose serious questions otherwise.

“We had two good matches towards the start, and we would love if our opening pair bags some runs. They complement each other well. It’s not just the opening pair; we’ve got someone like Devon Conway and Ruturaj. They took a while to bond their relationship, and once they got it, they trusted and blended well with each other,” added Simmons.

As for Kolkata’s batting, welcome back to Sunil Narine’s opening era. The West Indian registered his T20 best, and at 18 years of age, Angkrish Raghuvanshi became the youngest to slam a 50 in his maiden IPL innings as KKR put on 272 against Delhi, the second-highest total in IPL history.

Mukesh Choudhary didn’t have the best of comebacks as he proved to be very expensive against SRH, bowling the third most expensive over in IPL. “He didn’t bowl a bad over except that at some point, he could have changed something technically, but it’s been a positive conversation. We know what he is capable of; he’s done it before for us, and we’ll give him a chance to do it again,” said Simmons, discussing Mukesh’s performance in the previous game.

Kolkata doesn’t have the best of records at Chepauk, but last season it made it count thanks to ace spinners Varun Chakravarthy and Narine. However, CSK rarely stays down for long, and fans would expect it to turn the tables at its fortress and snap KKR’s winning streak.

Jayantho Sengupta
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