One of the most dominating sides in the second phase of the Indian Premier League, the Kolkata Knight Riders, have found their mojo after a five-month-long hiatus away from the sport. After a lukewarm start to their 2021 campaign back in India with two wins in seven league matches, the boys in Purple and Gold have started the UAE leg of the tournament in an emphatic fashion by registering two convincing wins against the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Mumbai Indians.
On Sunday, 26th September, the high-flying Knights will lock horns with the Chennai Super Kings in an afternoon encounter at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The Yellow army led by skipper MS Dhoni is coming into this much-awaited clash after a comprehensive six-wicket win over RCB.
While the Head-to-Head record is in favour of the CSK outfit with 15 wins out of the 23 matches played thus far, given the current form of the Knight Riders, they could well close that gap by producing yet another clinical performance.
Ever since the resumption of the league, the Knight Riders have adopted an aggressive style of play in the batting department that has enthralled millions of fans all across the globe.
However, skipper Eoin Morgan believes the bowlers have set up the game for the team by restricting the opposition to a below-par total on both occasions. In the IPL since 2020, the bowling unit of the Knight Riders has an average of 24.92 in the middle overs (7-15), which is the best by any team at the venue.
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One of the significant reasons for this is the ability of our spin twins, Sunil Nairne and Varun Chakaravarthy, to pick up crucial wickets in the middle overs and stem the flow of runs. With years of experience, Narine will be the vital cog in the bowling unit as the team gears up for a hat-trick of wins.
On the other hand, the batting unit looks settled, with the top order led by Venkatesh Iyer and Rahul Tripathi in sublime form. The aggressive brand of cricket was at the forefront as they laid a foundation with an 88-run partnership for the second wicket. The Knights boast of a formidable middle order with the likes of Morgan, Andre Russell, and Dinesh Karthik, making them one of the teams to watch out for in the remainder of the competition.
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One of the most balanced sides in the competition, CSK will look to continue their exemplary performance showcased in a couple of matches in the UAE. While they had a dismal 2020 season, they have bounced back with consistent performances this season and are sitting in the top half of the points table with seven wins in nine matches.
Over the years, CSK has been a side with plenty of international experience and exposure that allows them to handle the pressure of the game effectively. With Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis set to open the inning along with a quality middle-order, including the firepower of Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni, the batting unit looks settled.
On the other hand, the bowling will be spearheaded by the West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Bravo along with Josh Hazelwood and Deepak Chahar. The bowling unit restricted the RCB line-up to a below-par score of 156 runs on a high-scoring Sharjah wicket and will take plenty of confidence from their exploits in the last game.
KKR squad list:
Dinesh Karthik, Andre Russell, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Nitish Rana, Prasidh Krishna, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Mavi, Shubman Gill, Sunil Narine, Eoin Morgan (c), Rahul Tripathi, Varun Chakravarthy, Pawan Negi, Tim Seifert, Shakib al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Vaibhav Arora, Karun Nair, Harbhajan Singh, Ben Cutting, Venkatesh Iyer.
CSK Squad list:
MS Dhoni (C), Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ambati Rayudu, Imran Tahir, Josh Hazlewood, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Lungi Ngidi, Dwayne Bravo, Karn Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Moeen Ali, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, K Gowtam, Sam Curran, Robin Uthappa, Mitchell Santner, Jagadeesan N, KM Asif, R Sai Kishore, C Hari Nishaanth, M Harisankar Reddy, K Bhagath Verma