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Chennai Super Kings started their campaign in the most brilliant way possible. Outplayed by the Mumbai Indians for close to 80% of the match, they snatched victory at the last moment possible thanks to some terrific Dwayne Bravo heroics. The Kolkata Knight Riders also started their campaign with a win against the heavily fancied team of Royal Challengers Bangalore. KKR now faces another tough test as they travel into the den of the Super Kings to try and get their second consecutive victory.
CSK started its campaign with an excellent victory against the Mumbai Indians but MS Dhoni and his support staff will know they have a lot to improve on. Deepak Chahar proved to be a canny pick ahead of Shardul Thakur and Shane Watson bowled well at all stages of the innings.
Mark Wood, though, failed in his first outing as designated death bowler for CSK. Dwayne Bravo was excellent with the ball and even though he did not pick any wickets, we think he will be the main threat to opposition batsmen going forward.
Of particular concern would be the complete lack of impact that the CSK spinners had. Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir, and Ravindra Jadeja are all reputed international quality bowlers. The Mumbai pitch was flat but the trio would have still liked to have played a bigger role.
If the pitch in Chennai favors spinners, like it is expected to, then we could see the trio of spinners play a much larger role in the second match.
What about the batting, though?
Kedar Jadhav has been injured and is likely to miss the next few matches. Murali Vijay, who did not find a place in the first match, should slot in as his replacement. Vijay will probably take the opening slot next to Watson and leave Rayadu to play in the middle order. There is also the small possibility of CSK playing one of its little-known youngsters in place of Jadhav.
It is clear the CSK’s batting is the weaker of their two disciplines and that is not going to change around quickly. Watson is a T20 star but does not typically start well against spin. Murali Vijay is rusty in the T20 format, Suresh Raina is making a comeback, Rayadu is no longer in the scheme of things for the Indian team, and MS Dhoni is a shadow of the player he once was.
Ravindra Jadeja is also someone whose batting never reached the heights it promised.
Can CSK depend on Bravo to bail them out in each match? His innings in the last match was also one that was witnessed after many years. It is an outlier in his steady regression as a batsman.
CSK will have an advantage playing in home conditions in front of a vociferous crowd but they are a team with plenty of weaknesses to exploit.
Ambati Rayudu, SR Watson, SK Raina, Sam Billings, MS Dhoni, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir, SN Thakur, Deepak Chahar.
Dinesh Karthik started his KKR stint as captain with plenty of promise. He played a calm hand in the chase and helped guide his team to victory thanks to some very attacking batting performances alongside.
He will need to depend on his bag of tricks once again if KKR has to emerge victorious.
Let’s start with every team's first names on the list in Chennai. The spinners. KKR had Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, and Sunil Narine in its lineup for the first match and all three should keep their place with ease.
Chawla is dependable as a spinner and has had plenty of success in the IPL. Kuldeep Yadav is currently the darling of the Indian cricket team and has a lot of confidence. He also spins the ball both ways, a vital advantage in T20 cricket. Sunil Narine was effective without being overly dangerous in the first match.
We are unsure if he will be able to bowl without being censured for the entire duration of the IPL but his batting would have certainly given him a lot of confidence.
KKR’s spinners seem to be outclassed by CSK’s trio but they have the capability to spring a surprise. In general, the more helpful the conditions, the more effective even lesser quality spinners will become and thus even out the field.
The match will be won or lost depending upon KKR’s batting in our opinion. Sunil Narine stroked yet another incredible fifty and his place at the top of the order is looking less and less like a surprise. We think he will come out again to open the batting with Chris Lynn.
Narine is very effective against spin and so we expect to Mark Wood in the attack early. Lynn, though, is one of the most destructive batsmen in the world and absolutely loves pace on the ball.
CSK will have to decide which opening batsman it wants to attack first.
The middle order of Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik, and Andre Russell is pretty handy as well. There is plenty of power, experience, and energy to keep CSK on its toes.
Starting with a win was very important for a side like KKR which is irrecognizable from last year. A little more time and we are certain that players like Uthappa, Lynn, and Karthik will start firing regularly.
The fast bowling stocks of KKR are definitely superior to CSK. Mitchell Johnson and Andre Russell can crank it up while Vinay Kumar has become a more reliable bowler in recent years.
KKR has traditionally found it tough to travel to Chennai and win but they may have a real shot at causing an upset early in the tournament.
SP Narine, Chris Lynn, RV Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik, Andre Russell, RK Singh, RV Kumar, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Tom Curran.
The team winning the toss is likely to bat first
Read our guide on toss predictions to learn how we analyze and come up with our tips.
Humid weather and temperatures hovering around the mid-thirties have been forecast for the match. There is a negligible chance of showers to interrupt proceedings. The pitch will be of immediate concern for both teams. MA Chidambaram stadium offers something for the spinners on most days but playing your match here early in the season is a definite advantage. Scores of around 170 will be very hard to chase.
KKR may have only won 2 out of their 7 matches in Chennai and trail in the overall head to head 11-7b but we think KKR has put together a very useful team to play in most conditions this year. Their batting is better than CSK and their bowling is equally as good. The advantage of having more power hitters in the batting lineup is also likely to pay dividends.
The odds being offered to back KKR as the underdog make betting on them a very attractive proposition.
Back KKR to win.