Ravichandran Ashwin (left) will be important to MS Dhoni's plans for CSK © IANS
Ravichandran Ashwin (left) will be important to MS Dhoni’s plans for CSK © IANS


By Abhijit Banare


Apr 17, 2014


It’s the clash of the two heavyweights in the third match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014. Chennai Super Kings (CSK), with a formidable record in the tournament face a revamped Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) side. There’s not much to call as a preview for both sides apart from examining the conditions and the possible team line-ups of both the teams.


CSK have traditionally been the big-match performers. In the past, they have had bad starts but made up with the wins towards the end. This is one of the three sides which decided to retain the maximum available five players. In other words, almost half of Chennai’s playing XI is in place while they search for a perfect combination with the other six. Whereas for Punjab, it’s an all new playing XI with exciting names to boast of.


Before we look at the possible team combinations, let’s have a recap of how the pitch at Abu Dhabi is like which will determine the playing XI. The conditions showed that it’s not easy to swing your bat at will. On a pitch with a par score of 141, Kolkata Knight Riders had posted a 163 for five which was too huge for the Mumbai Indians in the opening encounter. The slower bowlers reap the rewards and Chennai can make good use of that. On the other hand, KXIP hardly have an experience head apart from Murali Kartik.


To look at the possible combination, Chennai will be eager to make good use of their overseas player Faf du Plessis. The South African T20 skipper struggled to find his place in the presence of Michael Hussey in the previous season. But this time around, MS Dhoni will look for solid starts from du Plessis. And to pair him in all likelihood will be Brendon McCullum. Can’t ask for a better opening pair than that. The middle-order looks pretty solid with Suresh Raina, Dwayne Bravo, Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja.


Either Mithun Manhas or Baba Aparajith will find a place as the seventh batsman. In the bowling, India’s preferred spin twins in the shorter formats, Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, look good to add their value. And among pacers, Mohit Sharma, Ishwar Pandey and Ben Hilfenhaus could be possible options. The only dilemma out here will be the use of Dwayne Smith. He gave some mature starts to Mumbai Indians and Dhoni will have to rejig the side to make space for him.


For Punjab though, there is plenty of overseas options but the final four seems to be in place. With George Bailey as skipper, there are only three more overseas slots of which David Miller is certain. And with the form he is in, there is no way Kings XI Punjab will keep out Mitchell Johnson. This leaves one overseas slot which either Shaun Marsh or Thisara Perera will look to occupy in case Glenn Maxwell fails to fire. There are some exciting Indian options in Virender Sehwag, Cheteshwar Pujara, Murali Kartik, Laxmipathy Balaji, Rishi Dhawan.


Both teams have enough firepower to chase. But the conditions could influence them to post a big score. Their squad has already been applauded post auctions, but it’s time for Punjab to prove it. In the past, there have been power-packed sides that have fallen apart. It will be exciting to watch this new squad fighting to gain the upper-hand in its opening encounter.




Kings XI Punjab: George Bailey (c), David Miller, Manan Vohra, Mitchell Johnson, Glenn Maxwell, Virender Sehwag, Rishi Dhawan, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Shaun Marsh, Cheteshwar Pujara, Beuran Hendricks, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Thisara Perera, Gurkeerat Mann Singh, Murali Kartik, Sandeep Sharma, Mandeep Singh, Akshar Patel, Parvinder Awana, Shardul Thakur, Anureet Singh, Shivam Sharma, Karanveer Singh.


Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (c&wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Suresh Raina, Francois du Plessis, Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum, Ashish Nehra, Mohit Sharma, Ishwar Pandey, Ben Hilfenhaus, John Hastings, Samuel Badree, Matt Henry, Mithun Manhas, Vijay Shankar, Ronit More, Baba Aparajith, Pawan Negi.


Time: 16:00 IST | 10:30 GMT


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(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)