Chennai: Chennai Super Kings would look for inspiration from the talismanic Mahendra Singh Dhoni once again while eyeing improvement on multiple fronts when they take on Punjab Kings in the IPL here on Monday.
CSK have won two out of their seven matches so far while Punjab Kings are a touch better with three victories from seven outings.
While PBKS are placed eighth, CSK occupy the penultimate slot in the IPL points table.
Defending champions CSK have faltered in all departments this season. They haven’t played the cricket they are known for under skipper Ravindra Jadeja, who has not been able to lead from the front.
However, they will approach their the next match embolden by their three-wicket win against bottom-placed Mumbai Indians courtesy Dhoni, who yet again proved he is the best finisher in the business.
The wicketkeeper-batter turned back the clock to script a memorable three-wicket victory, following a heart-stopping finish that saw him hit a six and two fours in the final over to finish the game.
Bowling has been a major concern for CSK but the former champions produced a good show against Mumbai with rookie pacer Mukesh Choudhary, who has struggled under pressure all season, wreaking havoc with the new ball, bagging three wickets.
Old war horse Dwayne Bravo continues to be a reliable servant for the team, picking up wickets whenever he is entrusted with the ball.
Skipper Jadeja is having an underwhelming season with bat and ball, while the addition of Sri Lanka spinner Maheesh Theekshana has bolstered the severely depleted bowling unit, which is missing Deepak Chahar and Adam Milne.
Young Ruturaj Gaikwad, who has had a miserable season so far apart from the 73 against Gujarat Titans, will need to step up and deliver with the bat.
All-rounders Moeen Ali and Shivam Dube will also have to take more responsibility.
Hanging in the playoffs race by the skin of their teeth, a defeat on Monday will send CSK on the brink of elimination.
On the other hand, Punjab will be smarting from the nine wicket loss to Delhi Capitals.
Punjab batting unit has been plagued by inconsistency all season. While they boast of power-hitters like Shikhar Dhawan, Liam Livinstone, and Shah Rukh Khan, consistency is something they would aim for.
Jonny Bairstow has failed to fire in the four games he has played and it will be seen if he is replaced by Sri Lankan Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who fared much better than the Englishman.
Punjab have a strong and varied bowling attack led by South African quick Kagiso Rabada, who has been right on the money.
Arshdeep Singh has also been brilliant. Although the 23-year-old hasn’t snared too many wickets, he has bowled economically but Vaibhav Arora needs to step up.
The role of pace-bowling all-rounder Odean Smith will be crucial. The West Indian has not been at his best so far in the IPL.
Punjab Kings: Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, Arshdeep Singh, Kagiso Rabada, Jonny Bairstow, Rahul Chahar, Harpreet Brar, Shahrukh Khan, Prabhsimran Singh, Jitesh Sharma, Ishan Porel, Liam Livingstone, Odean Smith, Sandeep Sharma, Raj Angad Bawa, Rishi Dhawan, Prerak Mankad, Vaibhav Arora, Writtick Chatterjee, Baltej Dhanda, Ansh Patel, Nathan Ellis, Atharva Taide, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Benny Howell.
Chennai Super Kings: Ravindra Jadeja (Captain), MS Dhoni, Moeen Ali, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Dwayne Bravo, Ambati Rayadu, Robin Uthappa, Mitchell Santner, Chris Jordan, Adam Milne, Devon Conway, Shivam Dube, Dwaine Pretorius, Maheesh Theekshana, Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Tushar Deshpande, KM Asif, C Hari Nishaanth, N Jagadeesan, Subranshu Senapati, K Bhagath Verma, Prashant Solanki, Simarjeet Singh, Mukesh Choudhary.