While Kings XI Punjab will be itching to make amends for the one that got away against Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings will be eager to get back in the thick of things, after a washout against Royal Challengers Bangalore denied the defending champions an opportunity to go for back-to-back wins. However, the element of desperation might just be a touch higher in case of KXIP, who find themselves languishing at the eighth spot on the points table, as opposed to CSK who are third in the standings.
Having already beaten Mumbai in front of their home crowd, Punjab let go of a golden opportunity to make it two out of two against their more fancied opponents, when they failed to drive home the advantage in the return leg at Mohali on Wednesday. With 34 required off 16 deliveries, MI got over the line, thanks to the heroics of Robin Peterson and Ambati Rayudu, who took 27 runs off the 19th over bowled by Piyush Chawla.
In contrast, it was an anti-climatic end to the highly-awaited Chennai-Bangalore clash, with the latter eyeing sweet revenge for a last-ball defeat at the Chepauk earlier in the tournament. But it was not to be as the game was abandoned without a ball being bowled, with persistent rain having the final say at the M Chinnaswamy stadium on Wednesday.
Adam Gilchrist is expected to remain out of the KXIP XI, which gives CSK an advantage before an important clash.
Looking ahead to Saturday's clash on CSK's turf, it would have to be said that the two-time champions hold a clear advantage. Not only are they peaking at the right time in this edition, they also hold a 6-1 record against KXIP in previous meetings. The question, however, is whether Kings XI Punjab, under David Hussey, can put the Mumbai loss behind them and rise to the occasion against the mighty Chennai Super Kings.
But for that to happen, the Punjab batsmen, especially openers Nitin Saini and Mandeep Singh, have to get their act together and support the in-form foreign trio of Shaun Marsh, David Hussey and David Miller. Parvinder Awana's pace has certainly added a spark to Punjab's bowling attack that looks even better after the arrival of former Pakistani allrounder Azhar Mahmood. But Chawla will consider himself lucky to retain his place, and if he does, it will be a test of his character after he was taken to the cleaners in the last match.
However, Chennai, who have ticked most boxes of late, don't have any such worries and are back to full strength following the return of Albie Morkel, who has re-joined the team after attending the funeral of his friend in South Africa. Most of their batsmen are in form, but a slight concern remains about Suresh Raina's lack of runs. Even though he has made some useful contributions, the southpaw hasn't kicked on to make big contributions thus far. With Morkel back, Doug Bollinger is certain to miss out in an eleven that looks spick and span to thwart anything Punjab throw at them.
Chennai Super Kings: 1 Subramaniam Badrinath, 2 Francois du Plessis, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 5 Ravindra Jadeja, 6 Dwayne Bravo, 7 Albie Morkel, 8 Wriddhiman Saha, 9 Ravichandran Ashwin, 10 Nuwan Kulasekara, 11 Yo Mahesh
Kings XI Punjab: 1 Nitin Saini (wk), 2 Mandeep Singh, 3 Shaun Marsh, 4 David Hussey (capt), 5 David Miller, 6 Siddharth Chitnis, 7 Azhar Mahmood, 8 Praveen Kumar, 9 Parvinder Awana, 10 Harmeet Singh