Gautam Gambhir (left) will have a task at hand to manage his team without Sunil Narine against CSK © PTI & IANS
Gautam Gambhir (left) will have a task at hand to manage his team without Sunil Narine against CSK © PTI & IANS

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

Oct 3, 2014

It is an all-IPL final at the Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2014 at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore as the Chennai Super Kings are up against the Kolkata Knight Riders. There is a very interesting backdrop to this game: While Kolkata come in with the confidence of 14 consecutive victories, which includes the IPL final earlier this year, they have lost the services of Sunil Narine for this game as he has been reported for a suspect action for the second time in the tournament. At the same time, Chennai scrapped through to the semi-final and then steam-rolled Kings XI Punjab. That may just give Chennai the psychological advantage.

Having said that, Kolkata will remain a solid unit even without Narine. The rise of Kuldeep Yadav as a viable option has given them great depth in their spin bowling resources. As a result, they haven’t missed someone like a Shakib Al Hasan. And, Yadav has Piyush Chawla to back him, who has also bowled well. Yusuf Pathan operates on the periphery and maintains tight lines with his fastish off-spin. Yes, Narine’s four crucial overs may be missed, but Kolkata have the goods to do well.

With Narine out, they may consider bringing in Pat Cummins, as the fast bowling option. He can open the bowling with Andre Russell and bowl some quick stuff upfront. The other two foreigners in the side would be Jacques Kallis and Ryan ten Doeschate. The batting is settled with Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir at the top. Manish Pandey and Kallis will follow them. In the middle, Pathan and Suryakumar Yadav would be crucial to the team’s cause. Ten Doeschate brings in calm with his unique approach in the middle order.

Chennai would be buoyed after their brilliant performance against the Kings XI Punjab. Though the top order failed, it is still dangerous with Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith and Suresh Raina. Dwayne Bravo’s form is a great sign for Chennai as he smashed the bowlers to all parts and setup the game. At the same time, Faf du Plessis is also in good touch and is a crucial part of this setup. The surprise package was Pawan Negi, who may be  sent in early again.

The spin bowling attack is strong for Chennai as Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Negi will handle it. But, their pacers have also done a good job upfront. Ashish Nehra is in great form and Mohit Sharma continues to get it in the right areas.

The last time Kolkata played at Bangalore, they won the IPL 2014. They would want to bring that confidence into this game. Though Narine isn’t there, they may tell themselves that even when the West Indian tweaker has failed, they have managed to win finals. Gambhir will hope for the same on Saturday.

Squads:

Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (c), Robin Uthappa, Piyush Chawla, Yusuf Pathan, Sunil Narine, Jacques Kallis, Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Manish Pandey, Ryan ten Doeschate, Suryakumar Yadav, Andre Russell, Manvinder Bisla (wk), Pat Cummins, Kuldeep Yadav.

Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (c&wk), Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishwar Pandey, Ashish Nehra, Mithun Manhas, Pawan Negi Mohit Sharma, John Hastings, Samuel Badree.

Time: 13.30 GMT | 19.00 IST

Complete coverage of Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2014 here

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)