Another week begins with one match in the Indian Premier League on Monday when two sides who are in the lower reaches of the table meet as the Punjab Kings take on the Chennai Super Kings, the defending champions whose title defence needs an injection of life.
The top four is in danger of getting away from both of these teams as they head into the second half of their campaign so this is a match that neither of them will want to lose else they will leave themselves an uphill task to make the finals.
The Punjab Kings opened the season with two wins from three matches but they have only won one in four since then and the big reason for that is because their aggressive approach with the bat is letting them down. I’ve said it all season that it is fine to look to score at every opportunity but someone needs to take responsibility once a few wickets have gone down. That hasn’t happened and because of that they have been rolled for 151 and 115 in their last two outings.
While par scores aren’t going to win the Punjab side matches with the poor state of their bowling attack, at least a par score will give them something to defend unlike the last two outings. They need someone to show some brains quickly or else they are relying on their whole top six to be on form whereas at the minute only two or three are. It would be no bad thing if they can offer up something with the ball as well.
Chennai Super Kings
The Chennai Super Kings began their title defence with four straight losses but they have won two of their last three now and are showing signs that they might be finding their groove. If that is the case then it could be them who power home over the second part of the campaign and sneak into the finals in the way Kolkata did last year before they lost to the Super Kings in the overall final over in the UAE.
Chennai have won a high scoring game and an average scoring one in that run and the match that they lost in between it took a ridiculously good innings from David Miller for the table topping Gujarat Lions to succumb the Super Kings to defeat. I sense that with the new side now a little more settled and having worked out combinations and things that Chennai are coming to the boil. They have match winners with the bat and the ball which is never a bad thing.
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If there is a player within this Punjab Kings side who does have brains to build the innings it is Shikhar Dhawan so his knock could be crucial to the overall outcome of the game. He has gone quiet recently and now would be a good time to come back to life.
While it wasn’t necessarily a surprise that Mitchell Santner replaced Moeen Ali in the last match it was a surprise that he filled the same role as the England man in that he came in at three and opened the bowling. If that wasn’t a one-off ploy to shock the Mumbai Indians then he is a key player here.
The Punjab Kings beat the Chennai Super Kings when these two met in their first meeting this season but I fancy the defending champions will get their revenge here. Since that match earlier in the campaign these two sides have gone in opposite directions. I wouldn’t say that the Punjab Kings have been found out because they never made their style a secret in the first place but they have come apart at the seams and need to start playing a bit smarter than they have been. There is no signs of an immediate change to their approach.
Chennai have found some form since these two met the first time around and the introduction of a couple of top class spinners has been a large reason for that. That made a lot of sense because these pitches are only going to tire over the remainder of the campaign. We know that the Punjab Kings like to smash everything out of the park but this is the third game in the last four on this Wankhede ground so you have to think there will be something in it for the bowler by now so the Kings’ approach, which was risky enough to begin with, could be even more danger fraught. I like the more settled and smarter Chennai here.
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