Abu Dhabi : Five wins on the trot saw Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) making a turnaround in their fortunes before a defeat to Rajasthan Royals (RR) dented their Indian Premier League playoff chances. KXIP side will now have to play out of their skin against a buoyant Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on Sunday and strengthen their chances of qualifying for the playoffs.With the race to playoffs intensifying, KXIP (12 points from 13 games) will not just bank on a win but would also hope all other calculations go their way to enable them to finish among the top four at the end of the league phase. Although Rajasthan Royals (-0.377) and Kolkata Knight Riders (-0.467) also have 12 points each, KXIP have a better net run rate (-0.133) than them at the moment.Chennai, on the other hand, have nothing to lose and will be ready to play spoilsport and remain “relevant”, as their captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said the other day.It was their bowlers, who let them down against the Royals, failing to defend a good 185-run total on board.KXIP batters Rahul, Chris Gayle, and Mandeep Singh are in good touch. Mandeep failed to get going against RR, but is likely to be dropped on Sunday while MayankA garwal’s comeback remains uncertain.Nicholas Pooran has fired down the order, but requires to bat with more responsibility as a single mistake here could possibly see their campaign getting over.
Glenn Maxwell (108 from 13 games) has one final chance to prove his caliber as the Aussie batter’s poor show would also affect his future stints in the lucrative league.Mohammad Shami undoubtedly, carries tremendous experience and has been their key bowler but the pacer has lacked support from others Arshdeep Singh and Chris Jordan. They need to step up, leaving behind the poor outing against RR.Leg-spinners Murugan Ashwin and Ravi Bishnoi, too, will have to deliver the goods against CSK, who will not be under any pressure.CSK will be looking to finish things off by giving their fans, who have stood with the side even in their worst ever campaign, a reason to smile.Dhoni had already started looking at the next season which clearly shows his team has given up and will now aim to play spoilsport in Punjab’s desperate bid to qualify.As seen in their previous few games, the CSK think-tank might once again test their bench strength, and even the players will be desperate to leave an impact in their last league game.The last time the two sides squared-off in this IPL, CSK had crushed Punjab by 10 wickets. The KL Rahul-led KXIP will now look to not just avenge the humiliating defeat but also to remain afloat in this year’s edition.
Kings XI Punjab: KL Rahul (captain/wicket-keeper), Harpreet Brar, Ishan Porel, Mandeep Singh, James Neesham, Tajinder Singh, Chris Jordan, Karun Nair, Deepak Hooda, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Glenn Maxwell, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Sarfaraz Khan, Sheldon Cottrell, Mayank Agarwal, Mohammed Shami, Darshan Nalkande, Nicholas Pooran, Chris Gayle, Murugan Ashwin, Jagadeesha Suchith, Krishnappa Gowtham, Hardus Viljoen, and Simran Singh
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (captain/wicket-keeper), M Vijay, Ambati Rayudu, Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Lungi Ngidi, Deepak Chahar, Piyush Chawla, Imran Tahir, Mitchell Santner, Josh Hazlewood, Shardul Thakur, Sam Curran, N Jagadeesan, KM Asif, Monu Kumar, R Sai Kishore, Ruturaj Gaikwad, and Karn Sharma