Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders — the familiar IPL rivals face-off in CLT20 2014 © IANS
Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders — the familiar IPL rivals face-off in CLT20 2014 © IANS

By Devarchit Varma

Sep 17, 2014

Both Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) will be eager to make a winning start to their Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2014 campaigns when they clash in the opening match at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal, Hyderabad, on Wednesday.

The reigning champions of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014, KKR will be eager to draw inspiration from their performance, and try and replicate Mumbai Indians’ (MI) and CSK’s record of winning both the IPL and CLT20 tournaments in the same calendar year. Kolkata have had successful run in the last few years and they should be able to draw a lot of inspiration from that.

On a personal note, Gautam Gambhir will aim to put behind the disappointment in England and get his best game forward as he has done with KKR over the couple of years. Opening the batting with him will be Robin Uthappa, whose exploits were a key factor in KKR’s winning campaign in the IPL 2014. The presence of big hitters such as Ryan ten Doeschate and Yusuf Pathan gives them depth. Jacques Kallis adds solidity and that gives them an opportunity to put strong totals and even chase the big ones.

Kolkata may miss the services of Morne Morkel, but the presence of Pat Cummins and an in-form Umesh Yadav should be enough to fill in the void. In the spin department, Sunil Narine is the leading spinner for KKR and this gives them an edge over their opponents. KKR have vast resources to choose a best playing XI as a strong Indian contingent that includes R Vinay Kumar, Suryakumar Yadav and Kuldeep Yadav presenting plenty of options.

Up against them are the dangerous CSK, who according to their captain MS Dhoni will be a side to watch out for as its players have had ideal build-ups to the tournament and they will be boosted with the return of Dwayne Bravo. CSK have always been among the stronger sides in CLT20 and KKR will have to be wary of the firepower that their opponents have in their ranks.

In what could be the distinguishing factor between the other sides and CSK in this tournament, the red-hot form of Faf du Plessis and Suresh Raina would be the x-factor. They both have had tremendous success in recent times with their respective national sides and they can be absolutely devastating on their day.

CSK will be likely to begin with Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum in the batting order, and they bat very deep, which is again something that is a worrisome for their opponents. Fresh after the breaks that the Indian players got after a rigorous England tour, they will be eager to get back in action in their favourite hunting grounds and start the tournament with a win.

Squads:

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

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: 20.00 IST I 14.30 GMT

Catch the complete coverage of Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2014 here

(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)