Kolkata: Following an inconsistent start to the season, Chennai Super Kings finally found some decent form thanks to a thumping win over Delhi Daredevils on Thursday, and the two-time winners will next face current champions Kolkata Knight Riders in game 26 of IPL 6 on Saturday. Pushed to the bottom half of the table after another away defeat, KKR will look to bounce back in the tournament in front of their passionate home fans at Eden Gardens.
The last time these two sides met was in the IPL 5 final when Manvinder Bisla's superb innings handed Kolkata their first title. But the times have changed since then and Bisla is struggling for runs, unable to get his campaign underway. The KKR batting has been inconsistent this season; Jacques Kallis might be chipping in with his medium pace bowling, but his inconsistent run with the bat has added pressure on others.
With Brendon McCullum fit and waiting on the sidelines, the time may have come for KKR to being in the explosive New Zealand batsman, which would mean resting Kallis or Sri Lankan offspinner Sachitra Senanayake. Kallis aside, Yusuf Pathan and Manoj Tiwary have underperformed so far which leaves skipper Gautam Gambhir and Eoin Morgan as the only batsmen in form.
This is the first that that Chennai are playing Kolkata in the IPL since they were beaten in last season's final; will the men in yellow be able to beat the hosts?
Having lost three out of five games, Kolkata will once again rely heavily on their bowlers. The spin duo of Sunil Narine and Senanayake are having a super tournament so far and has provided breakthroughs whenever Gambhir has asked for. The Indian supporting act of L Balaji and Rajat Bhatia has been inconsistent.
Against KKR's bowling, especially Narine and Senanayake, Chennai will rely on the in-form Michael Hussey who is coming off a Man-of-the-Match innings against Delhi. The Australian made 65 not out from 50 balls that was instrumental in handing CSK an 86-run win. Murali Vijay having an ordinary season with just 99 runs from five outings but MS Dhoni will be hoping that he comes back in form against Kolkata. Dhoni himself is in good form and will want to carry on. Besides that, allrounder Ravindra Jadeja is a vital member in the CSK's wheels in the middle and death overs. With Faf du Plesis returning, Chennai's management might have to to choose between him and fellow South African Chris Morris.
Chennai had a surprise hero in young Mohit Sharm, the Haryana quick who in his second IPL match picked up David Warner and Virender Sehwag in a superb spell of 3 for 10 against Delhi. Sharma will have the guidance of Albie Morkel in the pace department while the duo of R Ashwin and Jadeja would look after the spin department.
Chennai Super Kings: 1 Mike Hussey, 2 Murali Vijay, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 5 Ravindra Jadeja, 6 Dwayne Bravo, 7 S Badrinath, 8 Chris Morris/Faf du Plesis, 9 Albie Morkel, 10 Mohit Sharma, 11 R Ashwin
Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Gautam Gambhir (capt), 2 Manvinder Bisla (wk), Jacques Kallis/Brendon McCullum, 4 Eoin Morgan, 5 Yusuf Pathan, 6 Manoj 7 Tiwary, 8 Debabrata Das, 9 Sunil Narine, 10 L Balaji, 11 Sachithra Senanayake