Deadline: April 9, 2019 at 8 PM
Venue: MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
Probable XI for Chennai: Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Deepak Chahar, Scott Kuggeleijn, Imran Tahir
Probable XI for Kolkata: Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (c & wk), Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Harry Gurney, Prasidh Krishna
Pitch and conditions
It looked like a day-five pitch during the season opener. Chennai bundled out Bangalore for a meagre 70. Harbhajan, Tahir, and Jadeja took 8 wickets between them. Although Chennai won the game, Dhoni was unhappy with the pitch.
The curators thus dished out a better pitch for Chennai’s second match. Dhoni remained unbeaten on 75 off 46. In the following match, he remained unbeaten on 37 off 23. Dhoni’s wish is the curators’ command in Chennai. However, there is still some slowness in the track. The ball, at times, grips the surface, making it difficult for the batters to time it.
There will be a lot of dew in the second inning. Given Kolkata have three spinners, they will look to bat first. Target around 165 should be competitive.
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My XI: MS Dhoni (wk), Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Chris Lynn, Faf du Plessis, Andre Russell (c), Sunil Narine (vc), Imran Tahir, Deepak Chahar, Prasidh Krishna, Scott Kuggeleijn
A lot will depend on how the pitch behaves. Both teams have quality spinners: three wrist-spinners in Kuldeep, Chawla, and Tahir; finger-spinner in Harbhajan; and mystery spinner in Narine.
The strategy will be to start the innings with a spinner in order to take the pace off the ball. Harbhajan did so against Bangalore and removed Kohli; he did so against Punjab and removed Gayle. Narine, this time, will have to be vary of Harbhajan’s off-spinners. Dhoni and the first slip will be waiting for an outside edge.
For Kolkata, Chawla is the man to spin with the new ball. Watson has a weakness of playing deliveries that snipe into his pads. Chawla will fire a lot of wrong ‘uns at the Aussie.
Chahar and Kuggeleijn will be practicing bowling yorkers in the nets, for they will be against the almighty Russell. Bowling in the blockhole is the only way to dominate him. Such is his power that even his mishits cross the boundary line. The Chennai pace due will have to target Russell’s toes. We saw Rabada knocking him over with an absolute peach of a yorker.
Raina looks out of sorts
Seldom do we see Raina struggle to score runs in the yellow jersey. He is the first ever to reach 5,000 runs in the IPL. However, the slow pitches this season seem to have got the better of him. He has scores 30, 36, 16, and 17, throwing away starts from all occasions. It is about time he unleashes the hulk in him.