Ravindra Jadeja © IANS (File Photo)
Ravindra Jadeja has been one of the most reliable players for CSK this year © IANS (File Photo)

The dominating Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) will take on the ever-fearsome Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the second semi-final of the Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2014 at Hyderabad. With KXIP having trounced CSK three times in three matches during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014, CSK will look to get some payback in the big semi-final. Shiamak Unwalla looks at the team that ought to be CSK’s best bet.

Top order: Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith, and Suresh Raina. While Smith has not been in the best of form so far in CLT20 2014, he remains an explosive option at the top of the order. Few batsmen in CSK can clear the ropes with the ease at which Smith can — which is saying a lot considering the number of stroke-makers in the side — while his fielding is an obvious asset. McCullum has been in good nick as well, while also being exceptional in the outfield. Raina has been in peak form of late as well, and his part-time off-breaks are more often than not a blessing for skipper MS Dhoni.

Middle order: Faf du Plessis, MS Dhoni, Dwayne Bravo, and Ravindra Jadeja. While du Plessis did not play the last game against Perth Scorchers, he remains a valuable asset for CSK. Much like the rest of the team, he brings a lot to the table via his fielding. His ability to bowl leg-breaks — something Glenn Maxwell isn’t very fond of — again provides Dhoni with another option. Bravo has yet to come into his own with the bat, but he has been sublime with ball in hand. He too is tremendous anywhere in the field. Dhoni and Jadeja have shown time and again that they can be relied on for important runs down the order. They proved it again against the Scorchers with a match-turning 64-run stand in just five overs.

Lower order: Ravichandran Ashwin, Ashish Nehra, Mohit Sharma, and Pawan Negi. Nehra has been a revelation so far in CLT20 2014. Even at the age of 35, he has far out-bowled the younger pace CSK bowlers. Swing, accuracy and decent pace have served him well. If the national selectors had ever written him off, they might reconsider given his performances so far. Mohit has been fairly consistent as well, but has failed to recreate his purple cap-winning exploits during IPL 2014. He remains a good option with the new ball. However, the third pacer of the CSK attack, Ishwar Pandey, has been less than impressive. He clearly lacks Dhoni’s confidence, and hasn’t done a lot to inspire any. Given Dhoni’s preference for spinners, his place could be taken by the left-arm tweaker Pawan Negi.

Likely XI: Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith, Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis, MS Dhoni (c&wk), Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ashish Nehra, Mohit Sharma, and Pawan Negi.

Complete coverage of Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2014 here

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic. You can follow him on Twitter @ShiamakUnwalla)