Defending champions Chennai Super Kings are under pressure to win against high-flying Kolkata Knight Riders in their Indian Premier League (IPL) match at the Chidambaram Stadium on Monday. Out of nine matches, the MS Dhoni-led team has won four and lost four, while one tie was washed out. With all the teams, probably with the exception of Deccan Chargers, in content_cnion for the play-offs at the halfway mark, every match takes on huge importance from here on. And while a win for Kolkata will make them a cinch along with Delhi Daredevils for the knock-outs, it will make life much tougher for Chennai and the rest.
A Chennai win will be good for the league, that anyway has not ever been as wide open as this time around. Going by form, Kolkata go into the match as favourites after winning three out of their last four ties. Chennai must be short on confidence after Saturday's loss against Kings XI Punjab when they failed to chase down 157 in their own backyard. CSK's batting has been a major concern this season and barring South Afican Faf du Plessis, the rest of the batting has been a real downer.
However, Chennai have been the only team to have chased down in excess of 200 against Royal Challengers Bangalore but except that effort, it's been a sorry story. Their trump card Suresh Raina, who scored in spades in the previous four editions, is struggling big time this season. Captain Dhoni himself is having a bad patch with the bat. But time has come to change all that. If their batting doesn't click now, they may not qualify for the knock-outs. And if that does come to pass, it will be the first time since the league's inception that Chennai haven't been among the top four teams. So there is a lot at stake.
As for Kolkata’s situation, they have been one of the better teams this season and look all set to make their second successive play-off appearance. The morale of Gautam Gambhir's team is sky high following a thumping 47-run win against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Saturday at the Eden Gardens. Gambhir with 93 amply showed the kind of form he is in, and with Jacques Kallis and Brendon McCullum also coming good in the match, Kolkata have begun to look a threatening proposition. All in all, the match promises to be a cracker keeping in mind that the outcome can affect the league big time.
Chennai Super Kings: 1 Subramaniam Badrinath, 2 Faf 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 SB Jakati
Kolkata Knight Riders: 1. Brendon McCullum (wk), 2 Gautam Gambhir (capt), 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 Yusuf Pathan, 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Manoj Tiwary, 7 Debabrata Das, 8 Laxmi Ratan Shukla, 9 Rajat Bhatia, 10 Brett Lee, 11 Lakshmipathy Balaji