Chennai: Pune Warriors India will need to make a forced captaincy change on Monday when their regular skipper Angelo Mathews sits out the tough encounter against Chennai Super Kings, who are coming off a surprise last-ball win against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Political pressure in southern India in protest over the war crimes in Sri Lanka bars the islanders from playing in Chennai, which will force the team management to pick a different captain, most likely Yuvraj Singh or Ross Taylor.
CSK, though, are still trying to get over the pleasant surprise that arrived from Bangalore in the form of a win 'with a ball to spare'. Needing to defend two runs off the last ball, RCB pacer RP Singh delivered a no-ball. Ravindra Jadeja, who was caught off that no-ball, scampered two runs to take the team home.
Yuvraj Singh is one of the captaincy options in the absence of Angelo Mathews. (BCCI)
But against Pune, who are languishing at eighth position in the table with three losses and a win, Chennai face a much easier task in comparison to the challenge RCB posed. But knowing Chennai, they won't relax, especially with the kind of match-winners Pune have in their ranks.
Yuvraj, Taylor and Robin Uthappa are capable of winning a game on their own. In Aaron Finch, they have an opener capable of tearing apart any new-ball attack. But Pune's problem is none of them have shown any consistency so far. There have been flash-in-the-pan performances by each one of them but never have they clicked together except in their solitary win against Rajasthan Royals.
Pune's bowling is what makes their fans nervous. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ashok Dinda have been expensive with the new ball as well as in the closing stages. Mathews won't be available on Monday and Mitchell Marsh has looked more of a stop-gap arrangement. The fight has been shown only by the legspin of Rahul Sharma and Yuvraj's left-arm spin.
In place of Mathews, the like-for-like replacement will be allrounder Luke Wright, who also gives an option to open the innings. Another name who can be thrown into the mix is Steven Smith, who featured regularly in the eleven last season.
Chennai are now fourth on the points table with two wins and a loss from their three appearances and unlikely to tinker much with their playing XI. If anything, one can only think of spinner Shadab Jakati replacing medium-pacer Mohit Sharma. Pacers Dirk Nannes and Chris Morris and allrounder Dwayne Bravo have filled the foreign spots well so far, alongside Mike Hussey.
CSK batting too hasn't shown any signs to worry, with each of their batsman getting among the runs with one or more decent knocks. Hussey, Vijay and Dhoni have a half-century each under their belt, while Suresh Raina, S Badrinath and Jadeja scored useful 30s in the last match against Bangalore.
All in all, Chennai clearly go into the match as the favourites, with Pune hoping to click as a unit and surprise the two-time champions.
Chennai Super Kings: 1 Murali Vijay, 2 Mike Hussey, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 S Badrinath, 5 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 Chris Morris, 9 R Ashwin, 10 Dirk Nannes, 11 Mohit Sharma/Shadab Jakati
Pune Warriors India: 1 Aaron Finch, 2 Robin Uthappa (wk), 3 Ross Taylor, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Luke Wright, 6 T Suman, 7 Mitchell Marsh, 8 Abhishek Nayar, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Rahul Sharma, 11, Ashok Dinda