Chennai: A low on confidence Kings XI Punjab will look to put their campaign back on track when they take on two-time champions and table-toppers Chennai Super Kings in game 45 of IPL 6 at the MA Chidamabaram stadium here on Thursday.
Punjab ended just four runs shy of a morale-lifting win over Mumbai Indians in their last encounter at the Wankhede Staduim. They showed a tremendous fightback but their batsmen failed to deliver which could have taken them to a win in a closely fought contest.
Conversely, CSK don't seem to be doing anything wrong in the tournament so far. They have won their last six matches with opener Michael Hussey in sublime form and are leading the table with 16 points, winning eight of their 10 matches. Hussey is the second-highest run scorer in the tournament with 450 runs from nine games. MS Dhoni too has been in ominous form, which will be a cause of concern for Punjab, while Ravindra Jadeja has proved to be a great finisher.
With allrounder Dwayne Bravo in the side - he is the joint-highest wicket-taker with 16 scalps along with Rajasthan Royals' James Faulkner - CSK's bowling looks potent. But Bravo has struggled with the bat in the tournament, scoring just 51 runs in 10 games.
On the bowling front, there is some concern for CSK as Albie Morkel hasn't been up to his best in managing just one wicket in his four games. Young Indian medium pacer Mohit Sharma has done the job for them, scalping nine wickets in seven matches at an average of 14.6.
On the other hand, Punjab, who have given some tough fight to the rivals, are coming into the game after being outsmarted by Mumbai. A victory over Chennai would increase their points tally to 10, but for that their batsmen will have to counted. Mandeep Singh, who has the ability to clear the ropes, has scored 228 runs in nine matches at an average of 28.50 and is now partnering Australian Shaun Marsh at the top. T20 veteran David Hussey has not come good with the bat so far in the league stages and needs to come good with a solid score. In the middle order, South African David Miller has provided stability and power.
Punjab have been outclassed in most of their away games. In their last outing against CSK in Chennai they were shot out for 138. Battling against the two-time champions, Punjab will need to put up a spirited performance to upstage Dhoni and his yellow brigade.
Probable XIs: 1 Michael Hussey, 2 Wriddhiman Saha, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 S Badrinath, 5 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 Albie Morkel, 9 Chris Morris, 10 Ashwin, 11 Mohit Sharma.
Kings XI Punjab: 1 Mandeep Singh, 2 Shaun Marsh, 3 Manan Vohra, 4 David Hussey (capt), 5 David Miller, 6 Azhar Mahmood, 7 Gurkeerat Singh (wk), 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 Manpreet Gony, 10 Praveen Kumar, 11 Parvinder Awana.