CSK played as complete unit against KXIP © IANS
CSK played as complete unit against KXIP © IANS

It is the finals of the Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2014. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will take on Chennai Super Kings (CSK) at Bangalore. With 14 consecutive wins, KKR would look to continue the streak and carry the momentum forward, into the finals. CSK, on the other hand, would like to repeat what they did four years back in South Africa, becoming the first IPL team to win the CLT20. CSK’s experience in finals will definitely be instrumental in bringing KKR’s streak to a halt, but with KKR’s dominating nature so far, it is expected to be a close contest, even without Sunil Narine who has been banned from bowling in the finals after being reported for suspect action in the last two games. Ayush Gupta looks into the possible playing XI which CSK could field in the finals on Saturday.

Top order: CSK definitely needs their top-order to perform. Looking at the way the top order collapsed in the Powerplay during the semifinals against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), it will be crucial for their opening pair, Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith, to get off to a good start. Dwayne Smith has not been in top form so far, but his explosive approach still makes him a valuable option for CSK not just in the batting section, but also in the fielding section. McCullum has been in good form so far and MS Dhoni would love to have him in the playing XI without any second thoughts. Besides, this venue would be special to him as it was here where he score a blistering 158 in the inaugural edition of the IPL. But more importantly, at no. 3, CSK has Suresh Raina, without a doubt one of the most feared batsmen in the shortest format.

Middle order: CSK have one of the best middle orders in the world. The entire middle order — Faf du Plessis, MS Dhoni, Dwayne Bravo, and Ravindra Jadeja — have the ability to implode, making them one of the most difficult sides to contain at any stage of the innings. Every name on the list is a feared one in contemporary Twenty20 cricket; it will be interesting to see what tactics KKR adopt to restrict the scoring.

Bowling attack: The bowling attack will probably consist of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ashish Nehra, Mohit Sharma, and Jadeja. Nehra, who has been in sensational form for CSK, claimed two for nine against KXIP and will surely look to continue his form against KKR in the finals. Being the only specialist spinner in the squad, Ashwin will almost certainly retain his place along with new-ball bowlers Mohit and Nehra. However, it would be interesting to see who gets among Mithun Manhas and Pawan Negi gets the nod. If CSK look to bolster their batting line-up, Jadeja will probably come a place down the order. However, Negi’s impressive performance with the ball in the semifinal and ability to implode with the bat can earn him the spot.

In all aspects, CSK would not like to disturb the present team who earned a thumping victory over Punjab. The only spot in doubt will be contested by Manhas and Negi.

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

Match time: 7pm IST (1.30pm GMT).

Complete coverage of Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2014 here

(Ayush Gupta is a reporter at CricketCountry. A passionate supporter of Manchester United, he idolises Roger Federer)