Super Kings vs. King’s XI: A keen contest on the cards (Preview)

May 9th, 2008 - 3:11 pm ICT by admin  

Chennai, May 9 (IANS) King’s XI Punjab, on a roll with five consecutive victories and leading the pack on the leaderboard, face up to the Chennai Super Kings, a team that is on the mend after suffering a trough in their fortunes in the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament match here Saturday. The Mohali-based King’s XI would also be seeking to avenge their defeat suffered at home last month when the Super Kings piled up the tournament’s highest score so far, 240, and eventually won by 33 runs.

Those were happy days for the Super Kings who boasted two top-ranked Aussies in Matthew Hayden and Mike Hussey, who scored an unbeaten century at Mohali, besides the Kiwi all-rounder Jacob Oram. After the departure of the trio, the team crashed to three consecutive defeat before snatching a dramatic last-ball win over Delhi Daredevils at the Ferozeshah Kotla in Delhi Thursday night to get back on track.

In contrast, the Punjab team recovered well after losing their opening two games to chalk up five wins in a row to currently head the league table.

Led by Yuvraj Singh and bolstered by the presence of two top Sri Lankans, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, besides Aussies Simon Katich, James Hopes and Shaun Marsh, the Punjab side also boasts a more potent bowling attack comprising Irfan Pathan, Santakumaran Sreesanth and Piyush Chawla, all of whom have been amongst wickets recently.

In contrast, the Super Kings are just in the process of getting their bearings after the exit of Hayden, Hussey and Oram. The win at Kotla could not have come at a moment sooner for the Super Kings and their skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni admitted as much after the victory.

While Punjab looks the more settled combination, the signs are ominous for them given the fact that the Super Kings have finally worked out an XI that they would like to retain for the remainder of the league.

For the Kotla match Thursday, Super Kings carried out four changes while bringing back seamer Palani Amarnath and opening batsman Vidyut Sivaramakrishnan for Makhaya Ntini and Parthiv Patel.

They also included fast bowler Lakshimipathy Balaji who is on a comeback trail after two years of injury-induced absence and Sri Lankan youngster Chamara Kapudegera, a hard-hitting middle-order batsman, replacing Joginder Sharma and Anirudha Srikkanth, respectively.

It is more than likely that Dhoni, who promoted himself to No.3, ahead of Suresh Raina, Albie Morkel and Subramaniam Badrinath Thursday, would be tempted to stick to the winning combination for Saturday’s game that is scheduled for an 8 p.m. start.

The pitch for the match is said to be another featherbed but is likely to assist the quicker bowlers who are prepared to bend their backs as the surface would afford good bounce and carry. The batsmen might not have a reason to complain as the ball is expected to come on nicely, allowing them to play on the up and through the line.

The Super Kings have lost their two previous games at home, to Daredevils and Deccan Chargers, batting first both times, making 169 for six and 144 for seven, respectively, but Dhoni is hoping to reverse the trend and build on the Kotla win.

The teams are expected to announce their final elevens only Saturday after taking another look at the pitch.

King’s XI Punjab: Yuvraj Singh (captain), Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara (wicket-keeper), Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shaun Marsh, Irfan Pathan, Ramesh Powar, Sreesanth, Piyush Chawla, James Hopes, Luke Pomersbach, Ajitesh Argal, Pankaj Dharmani, Rishi Dhawan, Karan Goel, Uday Kaul, Sahil Kukreja, Wilkin Mota, Nitin Saini, Vikram Rajvir Singh, Sunny Sohal and Tanmay Srivastava

Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain/wicket-keeper), Stephen Fleming, Makhaya Ntini, Muttiah Muralitharan, Albie Morkel, Joginder Sharma, Suresh Raina, Parthiv Patel (wicket-keeper), Vidyut Sivaramakrishnan, Abhinav Mukund, Suresh Kumar, Arun Karthik, Shadab Jakati, Napoleon Einstein, Subramaniam Badrinath, Lakshmipathy Balaji, R. Ashwin, Srikkanth Anirudha, Viraj Vilas Kadbe, Palani Amarnath and Manpreet Gony

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