In-form CSK, KKR brace for high-octane battle

Abu Dhabi, Sep 25 (PTI): Varun Chakravarthy’s extra bounce and unpredictable angles will keep the Chennai Super Kings batsmen on tenterhooks as they take on Kolkata Knight Riders in a high-octane Indian Premier League encounter here on Sunday.
On a roll post IPL’s resumption, both Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders would look to continue their winning streak when the two most impressive sides of the tournament’s second phase lock horns against each other in the second double header.
Both CSK and KKR have registered two wins out of as many games post IPL’s resumption in the UAE, and the two sides would be desperate to outwit each other in their bid to register a hat-trick of victories.
However Chakravarthy, who had tormented the CSK batters during last season in UAE will like to once again ask probing questions to the likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu and MS Dhoni on tracks where the ball would occasionally grip and come onto the bat slower than expected.
Another common factor post the tournament’s resumption is that CSK and KKR have registered both their thumping wins against Royal Challengers Bangalore and defending champions Mumbai Indians.
While CSK beat MI and RCB by 20 runs and seven wickets respectively, KKR tamed RCB and MI by nine and seven wickets respectively.
But it is in the standings where CSK hold an edge over KKR. While the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side is atop the pecking order with 14 points from nine games, KKR is at the fourth spot with eight points from the same number of matches.
Young Gaikwad has been ominous form at the top. After scoring a match-winning unbeaten 88 off 58 balls against MI, he made quick 38 against RCB on Friday and in the company of Faf du Plessis provided a good start for the team while chasing 157.
And Dhoni would want the youngster to continue in the same vein.
After an unimpressive outing against MI, CSK batters lifted their game with Du Plessis (31), Moeen Ali (23), Ambati Rayudu (32), Suresh Raina (17 not out), Dhoni (11) all getting starts.
But it is the performance of the bowling unit which should be lauded as the bowlers were upto their task for the second consecutive match to hand CSK its seventh win of the season.
Dwayne Bravo (3/24) was brilliant with the ball against RCB, while Shardul Thakur (2/29) and Deepak Chahar (1/35) provided good support to the West Indian.
KKR, on the other hand, had a dream start to the second leg after struggled in the first phase.
Rookie Venketesh Iyer had impressed all and sundry with his stroke making in his first two IPL games. While he made a 27-ball 41 in KKR’s 93-run chase against RCB, in the game against MI the opener made 53 off 30 balls.
Shubman Gill is also in fine form and with Rahul Tripathi (74 not out off 42) to coming good, KKR’s batting looks in safe hands.
The tall opener Venkatesh will face a different kind of challenge when Deepak Chahar starts swinging the ball both ways which will also test his skills considering he doesn’t have a distinct footwork whole playing the faster bowlers.
But skipper Eoin Morgan would be desperate to return among runs.
On the bowling front, Varun Chakravarthy, star all-rounder Andre Russell, Lockie Ferguson, Sunil Narine and Prasidh Krishna would hope to continue their fine show.
KKR will hope to continue playing in the aggressive fashion and win the title just like the 2014 edition when they notched nine victories in a row.

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