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|Faf du Plessis||27||15||4||1||180.00|
The Chennai Super Kings are firmly in the top-half of the table while the Kolkata Knight Riders are trying to separate themselves from the chasing lower half. Both the two teams have displayed some very high-quality cricket in IPL 2018 although it would be fair to say that CSK is making fart-stopping finishes a habit.
Traveling to Kolkata is never the easiest jobs for teams because the surface is pretty unique in its nature. KKR has traditionally been able to make its home ground into a fortress and is tough to beat. CSK and MS Dhoni, on the other hand, are enjoying a resurgence that is bringing smiles to the faces of millions of fans.
Which team will come out on top in this clash between two sides likely to make the playoffs?
KKR pulled off a deceptively difficult chase against RCB with ease in the last match. Valuable contributions from Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa, and Dinesh Karthik helped them chase down a tricky total on a pitch that was taking plenty of spin.
This last performance would have given KKR plenty of confidence especially since their batting has been a bit unpredictable off late.
We believe that Chris Lynn scoring runs and getting his first major contribution for this season is going to be a very significant factor. Lynn is an absolute beast when it comes to T20 cricket and can change the fortunes of a team when in form.
He has struggled to return from injury as well as cope with the slower pitches that his game does not particularly suit. Now that he seems to have gotten over those humps, KKR will be hoping for some typical Lynnsanity to come to the fore.
Sunil Narine seems to have become the default opener for KKR now and it really does not sit well with us. Shubman Gill is more than capable of taking over the openers job and moving the team forward but the team management seems intent on making him into a finisher.
Still, the likes of Robin Uthappa, Andre Russell, Nitish Rana, and Dinesh Karthik make for a very impressive middle order. Rana retired hurt in the last game and we think he should be fit for this match but his availability will be assessed a little closer to the match.
The return to the Eden Gardens will also mean that KKR will be able to unleash its fast bowlers on a pitch that has now become one of the most helpful tracks for the fast bowlers in India. Mitchell Johnson continues to be very impressive even after all this time away from the international game and Shivam Mavi seems to be coming along very nicely as well.
Kuldeep Yadav, Sunil Narine, and Piyush Chawla all seem to be regulars in the eleven and we don’t see that changing any time soon. As in any KKR match, Andre Russell is going to be a threat with both bat and ball.
Chris Lynn, SP Narine, RV Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik, RK Singh, Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Shivam Mavi, Piyush Chawla, MG Johnson, Kuldeep Yadav.
CSK is sitting on top of the table after their win against the Delhi Daredevils and will be very confident traveling to Kolkata as they look to consolidate that position. Four changes in the last match showed that CSK is still looking for that right balance in their side and injury to Deepak Chahar has not helped.
The pillar for this CSK team has been its batting and the three players to have made all the difference will be in prime focus again. We are referring to Shane Watson, Ambati Rayadu, and MS Dhoni as the three most important players of course.
Shane Watson has been brilliant at clearing the boundaries at the top of the order. CSK has been chasing plenty of big targets and Watson has been central to getting them off to good starts. He has a vulnerability to getting out LBW early in his inning but once he gets set he is very difficult to stop and his ability to hit sixes is phenomenal.
MS Dhoni is batting like a man who has been handed a youth elixir. He is starting quick, clearing the boundaries, and just dominating attacks in every match. We shudder to think what CSK’s season would have looked like without the end over contributions from Dhoni.
Possibly greater than both the other two has been the contribution of Ambati Rayadu to his team's cause. Rayadu has batted out of position, been shifted up and down in consecutive matches and still performed in almost every single game.
Apart from these three, CSK has also been lucky to have one player step up in almost every game. The only one change we would like to see is to have Billings pack in the playing eleven in place of du Plessis who is struggling.
CSK’s batting has been the most formidable in the tournament so far and that has allowed its underperforming bowlers some breathing space. Ngidi had an excellent first IPL game but Asif was very expensive. Ravindra Jadeja is not bowling enough and is too one dimensional to be effective on flat batting tracks.
Dwayne Bravo has also had a poor season by his standards and is no longer being able to contain or pick wickets during the death overs. Harbhajan Singh is tidy at best and does not seem to be interested in picking wickets anymore.
This CSK bowling lineup is weak and could prove to be a liability in the knockout stages of the tournament.
Add to that their fielding woes and CSK starts looking like a very beatable team. MS Dhoni is astute enough to know the drawbacks of his team and we think he will continue to make a few changes to the playing eleven going forward.
SR Watson, Faf du Plessis, SK Raina, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Karn Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, Lungi Ngidi, KM Asif.
The team winning the toss is likely to field first, especially with rain being around.
Read our guide on toss predictions to learn how we analyze and come up with our tips.
There is plenty of rain that has been predicted for match day in Kolkata. Interruptions seem all but certain at this point in time but we are still hoping for a match to be played out. Rain is expected to get a little lighter as the day progresses, though.
The pitch in Kolkata has a good amount of pace and bounce, perfect for fast bowlers, and should also help the batsmen play their shots. Scores of around 160-170 should be considered par. Movement early on in the match could be crucial as there is almost always some grass left on the pitch nowadays.
KKR lost to CSK in a thriller in their first match against each other this season. That result means that KKR has lost three out of its last five matches to CSK. The weather around could make this match very unpredictable but we still think that home advantage will be very important in the contest.
Back the Kolkata Knight Riders to win.