Chennai: R. Ashwin who has been in the eye of the storm for ‘Mankading’ Jos Buttler would be seeking a happy homecoming when Kings XI Punjab cross swords with Chennai Super Kings here at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday.
It will be Ashwin’s first appearance at Chepauk as Kings XI skipper and he would be trying to plot the downfall of his former franchise with whom he had grown as a world-class spinner under M.S. Dhoni.
Chennai batting coach Mike Hussey, a former teammate of Ashwin, expects the off-spinner to be fired up for Saturday’s match.
“He is a key player for Punjab. He will be keen coming back to his home. He knows these conditions extremely well. It’s going to be a good challenge for us to play against him. He will have a lot of inside information and knowledge on CSK and that will certainly help. However, you can have all that you want, but at the end of the day, it is all about execution,” said Hussey.
Apart from Ashwin, Punjab have two more TN spinners — C.V. Varun and M. Ashwin. If conditions favour spinners, Punjab could spring a surprise by fielding all three TN players.
Chennai are back home after a disappointing outing in Mumbai, while Punjab are on a high after back-to-back victories.
Blow for CSK
Super Kings’ pace battery lost some power with Dwayne Bravo being sidelined from the IPL for two weeks with a hamstring strain that he sustained during the last game against Mumbai.
Hussey conceded that Bravo’s injury was a big setback for the defending champions.
“He offers so much balance to the team. He is a quality player,” he added.
Super Kings line-up is expected to be a lot different from the previous matches as the batting coach hinted that Bravo’s unavailability could cause bit of rejigging in the team.
New Zealand all-rounder Scott Kuggeleijn is set to be included in the playing XI.
“I am sure we will still be able to put a very strong team. We have had these challenges in the past and we have been able to overcome them. I hope we can do that again. I am sure MS and Fleming will be looking at Scott and assessing his death bowling skills. We have still got Shardul and Mohit who can bowl at the death.
“You never know, if it’s a real turning pitch, one of the spinners can bowl towards the end,” added Hussey.