Mohali: Kings XI Punjab, fresh off a commanding win over Pune Warriors India, host the two-time IPL champions Chennai Super Kings at the PCA Stadium here on Wednesday.
After losing their opening encounter against Mumbai Indians by nine runs, CSK will hope to kick-start their season against Punjab. Traditionally slow starters, MS Dhoni's team knows how to peak, which is exactly what they will aim against Adam Gilchrist's team.
A CSK top order comprising Murali Vijay, Mike Hussey and Suresh Raina has to get its act together as the batsmen threw their wickets away cheaply in the opening match against Mumbai. Dhoni looks in fine form as he almost took his side home with a brisk half-century until a magnificent catch by Kieron Pollard in the deep ended his knock. Dhoni will expect some support from the middle order which includes the likes of allrounder Dwayne Bravo and S Badrinath.
Though their batting came a cropper against Mumbai, CSK can certainly take heart from the discipline their bowlers showed. With conditions expected to be cloudy on Wednesday, things might work in favour of Dirk Nannes and talented domestic medium-pacer Ankit Rajpoot. Nannes bowled at good pace and was right on the money in the opening encounter. Rajpoot hit the deck hard in his IPL debut and can trouble the Punjab top order. Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja will share the responsibility of putting the brakes in the middle overs. Chennai's spin department will be led again by R Aswhin, who remains Dhoni's trump card.
Punjab, on the other hand, are coming into the match on the back of a comprehensive win over Pune in their first match where they comfortably chased down the paltry target of 100. Gilchrist looked to be hitting the ball crisply in his short stay and is always a threat for the opposition even at the age of 40.
Punjab are blessed to have young talents like Mandeep Singh and Manan Vohra in their ranks. Vohra played a solid innings against Pune, though it remains to be seen how he responds when put under pressure. Allrounders Azhar Mahmood and David Hussey are two other match-winners in the Punjab line-up that otherwise lacks big names.
Punjab bowlers barely put a foot wrong against Pune in the opener. With Mahmood being a prized asset with both bat and ball, pacer Ryan Harris and Praveen Kumar can wreck the opposition top order with their pace and swing early in the innings. Parvinder Awana was a revelation for Punjab last season and will hope to show come consistency in IPL 6, along with another Indian bowler, legspinner Piyush Chawla.
On current form, Punjab look good but will surely be tested by the former champions, who will look to get their first points of IPL 6.
Chennai Super Kings: 1 Mike Hussey, 2 Murali Vijay, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Dwayne Bravo, 5 S Badrinath, 6 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Chris Morris/Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Ankit Rajpoot, 11 Dirk Nannes
Kings XI Punjab: 1 Adam Gilchrist (capt/wk), 2 Mandeep Singh, 3 Manan Vohra, 4 Azhar Mahmood, 5 David Hussey, 6 Gurkeerat Singh, 7 R Sathish, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 Praveen Kumar, 10 Ryan Harris, 11 Parvinder Awana