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May 23, 2024 2:05 pm

IPL 2024: CSK eye all-round stability against unpredictable Punjab Kings

Chennai, April 30

An inconsistent Chennai Super Kings will have to display all-round solidity when they face an unpredictable Punjab Kings in their Indian Premier League match here on Wednesday.

The Super Kings have 10 points from nine matches, similar figures as that of Lucknow Super Giants, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Capitals, and the defending champions would certainly like to breakaway from that mid-table gridlock with a win.

However, the defending champions will be a worried lot as Punjab Kings, who have six points from nine games, are coming to this match after scaling down 262 against Kolkata Knight Riders, the highest chase in the history of T20 cricket.

But the Chepauk deck is a different beast, offering a semblance of assistance to the bowlers and it was evident in CSK’s impressive 78-run win over SRH in their previous match.

There was no dew in Chennai on that night, and the CSK bowlers defanged SRH’s potent batting unit with their accuracy and variations after their batters put on board a 200-plus total.

They need an encore against Punjab, and all eyes will be on skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad, who is on a hot streak.

Gaikwad has registered scores of 108 and 98 in his last two innings and New Zealand man Daryl Mitchell too seemed to have regained his touch at just the right time with a 32-ball 52 against Hyderabad.

However, the real storm-force in the CSK line-up is Shivam Dube, who has pulverised the opposition bowlers while coming as an Impact Sub.

While Dube has always been a spin-basher, the left-hander has now added another angle to his batting with his effective tackling of pacers.

Dube so far has made 350 runs, second highest for CSK behind Gaikwad’s 447, and those runs came at a strike-rate of 172.41, second only to MS Dhoni’s 259.45.

However, the CSK opening combination continues to be a bit iffy. Gaikwad has been a solid presence but both now-dropped Rachin Ravindra and Ajinkya Rahane have not been able to play the support role to their skipper.

Rahane’s last four outings as opener produced scores of 5, 36, 1, 9, and those numbers don’t reflect his experience or skill-level. However, CSK in all likelihood will continue to back him.

Batting coach Michael Hussey had remarked that the 35-year-old was close to getting a big knock under his belt.

On the other hand, PBKS will be desperate to carry the momentum after that record chase and climb up the ladder from the current eighth place.

For that, their batters need to fire in unison once again and the onus is on Jonny Bairstow, who made a hundred against KKR, Shashank Singh and Prabhsimran Singh.

But they will eye a more impact outing from wicketkeeper batter Jitesh Sharma.

However, PBKS’ bowling department looks a bit shaky despite having experienced campaigners such as Kagiso Rabada, Harshal Patel, Arshdeep Singh and Sam Curran in their ranks.

The visitors will also require a much-improved effort from their spinners — Harpreet Brar and Rahul Chahar – as they have scalped just seven wickets among them this season.

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