Abu Dhabi, September 25: Varun Chakravarthy's extra bounce and unpredictable angles will keep the Chennai Super Kings batsmen on tenterhooks as they take on Kolkata Knight Riders in a high-octane Indian Premier League (IPL 2021) encounter here on Sunday (September 26).
On a roll post IPL 2021's resumption, both Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders would look to continue their winning streak when the two most impressive sides of the tournament's second phase lock horns against each other in the second double header.
Both CSK and KKR have registered two wins out of as many games post IPL's resumption in the UAE, and the two sides would be desperate to outwit each other in their bid to register a hat-trick of victories.
However, Chakravarthy, who had tormented the CSK batters during last season in UAE will like to once again ask probing questions to the likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu and MS Dhoni on tracks where the ball would occasionally grip and come onto the bat slower than expected.
Another common factor post the tournament's resumption is that CSK and KKR have registered both their thumping wins against Royal Challengers Bangalore and defending champions Mumbai Indians.
While CSK beat MI and RCB by 20 runs and seven wickets respectively, KKR tamed RCB and MI by nine and seven wickets respectively.
But it is in the standings where CSK hold an edge over KKR. While the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side is atop the pecking order with 14 points from nine games, KKR is at the fourth spot with eight points from the same number of matches.
Young Gaikwad has been ominous form at the top. After scoring a match-winning unbeaten 88 off 58 balls against MI, he made quick 38 against RCB on Friday and in the company of Faf du Plessis provided a good start for the team while chasing 157.
And Dhoni would want the youngster to continue in the same vein. After an unimpressive outing against MI, CSK batters lifted their game with Du Plessis (31), Moeen Ali (23), Ambati Rayudu (32), Suresh Raina (17 not out), Dhoni (11) all getting starts.
But it is the performance of the bowling unit which should be lauded as the bowlers were up to their task for the second consecutive match to hand CSK its seventh win of the season.
Dwayne Bravo (3/24) was brilliant with the ball against RCB, while Shardul Thakur (2/29) and Deepak Chahar (1/35) provided good support to the West Indian. KKR, on the other hand, had a dream start to the second leg after struggled in the first phase.
KKR is looking a completely different unit, in the manner in which they defeated RCB and MI.
Rookie Venketesh Iyer had impressed all and sundry with his stroke making in his first two IPL games. While he made a 27-ball 41 in KKR's 93-run chase against RCB, in the game against MI the opener made 53 off 30 balls.
Shubman Gill is also in fine form and with Rahul Tripathi (74 not out off 42) to coming good, KKR's batting looks in safe hands.
The tall opener Venkatesh will face a different kind of challenge when Deepak Chahar starts swinging the ball both ways which will also test his skills considering he doesn't have a distinct footwork whole playing the faster bowlers.
But skipper Eoin Morgan would be desperate to return among runs. On the bowling front, Varun Chakravarthy, star all-rounder Andre Russell, Lockie Ferguson, Sunil Narine and Prasidh Krishna would hope to continue their fine show.
KKR will hope to continue playing in the aggressive fashion and win the title just like the 2014 edition when they notched nine victories in a row. It is imperative that the Morgan's side continue to win to keep their play-off hopes alive.
On the other hand, Chennai Super Kings will have their one foot in the knockouts if they win this match as a favourable result will swell their tally to 16 points, good enough for a play-off berth. And KKR can keep their hopes alive if they achieve the right result.
Teams (From): Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (Captain) Ruturaj Gaikwad, Moeen Ali, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Shardul Thakur, Lungi Ngidi, Deepak Chahar, Imran Tahir, Faf du Plessis, Robin Uthappa, Karn Sharma, Josh Hazlewood, Jason Behrendorff, K Gowtham, Mitchell Santner, R Sai Kishore, Hari Nishanth, N Jagadeesan, Cheteshwar Pujara, KM Asif, Harishankar Reddy, Bhagath Varma.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Eoin Morgan (Captain), Dinesh Karthik, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Karun Nair, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathy, Shubman Gill, Harbhajan Singh, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Pawan Negi, M Prasidh Krishna, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Dube, Tim Southee, Vaibhav Arora, Varun Chakravarthy, Andre Russel, Ben Cutting, Shakib Al Hasan, Sunil Narine, Venkatesh Iyer, Sheldon Jackson, Tim Seifert.
Match date: Sunday (September 26)
Match starts at 3:30 PM IST.
Live telecast: Star Sports Networks
Live streaming: Disney + Star Sports