Mumbai: Chennai Super Kings will bank on their playoff experience to stop the Kings XI Punjab juggernaut in the Qualifier 2 clash at Wankhede stadium here on Friday. The winner will play the final against Kolkata Knight Riders in Bengaluru on Sunday.
The M.S. Dhoni-led side has momentum by their side having thrashed Royal Challengers Bangalore in their last league match and then ending Mumbai Indians’ dream run in the Eliminator on Wednesday with an emphatic seven-wicket win.
Kings XI, on the other hand, dominated the league phase but were hammered by an inform Kolkata Knight Riders in the Qualifier 1 at Eden Gardens on Wednesday. Their premier batsman Glenn Maxwell (539 runs) who wore the orange cap for the bulk of the season has gone silent in the last few games.
But Maxwell has taken a liking for the CSK attack scoring 95 and 90 in their previous league meetings to flatten the two time champions. The 25-year-old Australian has hammered the Chennai spinners, unsettling them with innovative shots, especially R. Ashwin.
However, the Victorian has struggled against leg-spinners so Dhoni might think of including Samuel Badree but their overseas batsmen Dwayne Smith, Faf du Plessis, Brendon McCullum and David Hussey who played in the last game are in good touch, so Dhoni & Co will have their work cut out.
Besides Maxwell, David Miller, Virender Sehwag, Manan Vohra, Wriddhiman Saha and captain George Bailey also have all played some crucial knocks for the league toppers. Maxwell was part of Mumbai Indians last year, so he knows the conditions well here and will be itching to get amongst runs again.
CSK who bid to achieve the feat of entering the final for the sixth time have an advantage of playing the last game in Mumbai and getting accustomed to conditions here while Kings XI travelled here from Kolkata and the fatigue factor might come into picture.
The two-time champions have been flexible in the batting order and it has been working for them. They can chase any total with finishers like Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja due to come after the four foreign batsmen.
However, bowling still remains a concern for them. But they started well against Mumbai Indians and were good at the death but in between leaked plenty of runs. Purple cap owner Mohit Sharma was amongst the wickets again but couldn’t maintain his rhythm.
Ashish Nehra and Ishwar pandey have bowled well in patches. CSK have mostly relied on spinners Ashwin and Jadeja who have done reasonably well but have bad record against Kings XI.
Mitchell Johnson will relish the conditions while spearheading the attack for Kings XI.