The Kings XI Punjab registered a comfortable eight-wicket victory over Pune Warriors India on Sunday © PTI

By Sarang Bhalerao

Mohali: Apr 9, 2013

It is a battle between two teams – Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings. Both the teams have started their campaign on different notes. The mood in the Punjab camp will be upbeat after their resounding win over Pune Warriors India in their first game of IPL 2013. On the other hand, Chennai Super Kings lost their opening encounter against Mumbai Indians at MA Chidambaram Stadium.

For one, Chennai need someone from the top-order to bat for longer period. Against Mumbai the top order made heavy weather of the target by wasting their starts. Chennai’s opening combination of Michael Hussey and Murali Vijay need to fire. Chennai looks a completely different side when they have a solid foundation at the top. Hitters like Suresh Raina and Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be doubly effective if Chennai have a good start. Dhoni waged a lone battle against Mumbai but failed to see his side through. The middle-order batsmen Dwayne Bravo and Subramanian Badrinath have been proven match winners in the past.

Chennai’s bowling was impressive against Mumbai. Dirk Nannes worked up good pace and bowled a probing line. The conditions at Mohali might work in his favour. Ankit Rajpoot also impressed with his opening burst. Bravo is the third seamer who was taken for runs. But the West Indian all-rounder is an experienced cricketer and it was one of those off-days against Mumbai. Expect him to make a difference on a track that offers a lot of bounce to the pacers. Ben Laughlin is another quickie in the Chennai ranks but could make way for Nuwan Kulasekara. Chennai’s spin contingent is led by Ashwin who is a seasoned campaigner. His four overs seldom go for runs.

Punjab have lesser things to worry about after their comprehensive win over Pune on Sunday. The Punjab bowlers hardly put a foot wrong in their first match. But Chennai have some class batsmen in their ranks. So it will be a new challenge for Punjab bowlers. Praveen Kumar’s movement with the new ball could trouble the Chennai batsman. Ryan Harris has the ability to move the ball both ways with searing pace. In Azhar Mahmood, Punjab have got an intelligent bowler who mixes his deliveries well and does a good containment job. Parvinder Awana has been a revelation for Punjab since last two seasons. The carry in the wicket might just suit his style of bowling. For Punjab the biggest plus has been leg-spinner Piyush Chawla’s rhythm. His four overs in the middle of the innings will be crucial.

Kings XI comfortably chased the total of 100 against Pune. Adam Gilchrist played a cameo and has the ability to take the game away from the opposition in a matter of minutes. Mandeep Singh has looked organized. He notched up a man-of-the-match performance against Chennai during the last season scoring 75. Punjab can take solace from the fact that young Manan Vohra played an impactful innings. The feature of his batting was supreme confidence coupled with sublime timing. He might well be Punjab’s lynchpin during this season. David Hussey is a stalwart in the Twenty20 format who can win the matches on his own. Mahmood is quite handy with the bat. Gurkeerat has won Punjab some games in the past. Rajagopalan Sathish is an electric fielder and is quite capable with the bat.

On current form Punjab look favourites to win but haven’t people discounted Chennai in the past. And often they have made critics eat humble pie.


Chennai Super Kings (probable): Michael Hussey, Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina, Dwayne Bravo, S Badrinath,Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c & wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Nuwan Kulasekara,  Ankit Rajpoot, Dirk Nannes

Kings XI Punjab (probable): Adam Gilchrist (c & wk), Mandeep Singh, Manan Vohra, David Hussey, Azhar Mahmood, Gurkeerat Singh, Rajagopal Sathish, Piyush Chawla, Praveen Kumar, Ryan Harris.

Match Time: 20:00 local time | 14:30 GMT

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(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with hisknowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter @bhaleraosarang)