Sparks could fly at Chepauk
Duels between in-form teams can be high on octane and entertainment, sparks could fly at Chepauk on a Super Saturday.
The face off between Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders is also bound to a tense affair. The side that blinks first could be the one to lose out. Comebacks can be hard in the Twenty20 format.
Super Kings and Knight Riders have two wins each from two games. They will seek to consolidate the early gains at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in front of a sell-out crowd.
Sourav Ganguly and Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be eyeball to eyeball during and after the toss. The DLF-Indian Premier League is hotting up during summer time in Chennai.
The team from Kolkata is among the better bowling sides in the competition. Ishant Sharma has been incisive in a competition that is essentially about huge blows and a glut of runs.
Ishant has the high-arm action and height, bounce and movement, to trouble the southpaws in the Super Kings line-up with the delivery leaving them; Ishant’s incoming delivery can bother the right-hander. He has to bowl this delivery with great precision otherwise Matthew Hayden could cream him through the off-side field.
The young paceman comprehends a thing or two about bowling at Hayden. He could well charge in from round the wicket. This clash at the top could dictate the course of the contest.
The pitch should once again favour the batsmen although someone like Ishant can exploit an element of carry for the bowlers. However, a 4 p.m. start suggests that dew may not be a major factor. If anything, early evening dew could actually enable the pacemen to get the delivery to skid off the surface during the second half of the match.
In any event, the importance of the toss in Twenty20 cricket has been exaggerated.
Ishant has been backed well by Ashok Dinda and Ajit Agarkar. Reverse swing is unlikely to be a major factor in this format, however, accuracy, change of pace and a fuller length are crucial attributes.
Spinners take the pace off the ball and left-armer Murali Kartik has bowled with control and craft for Knight Riders. But then, like any left-arm spinner, he would be up against it bowling at the southpaws.
Super Kings has an edge in batting with Hayden, Michael Hussey and Suresh Raina in match-winning form and with skipper Dhoni ready for the end overs. Someone like S. Badrinath lends depth to the line-up.
The real test for the host would lie in how its bowling fares against a line-up with arguably less depth but one of stroke-makers and firepower. Brendon McCullum can be destructive at the top, while Ricky Ponting, Sourav Ganguly and David Hussey are all batsmen who can clear the ground or find gaps and boundaries. The explosive Chris Gayle has joined the side but has still not recovered fully from a hamstring injury.
Manpreet Goni was outstanding against Mumbai Indians in his first spell — Dhoni bowled him out — but Jacob Oram and Palani Amarnath were taken to the cleaners.
The combative Muralitharan’s outstanding penultimate over under pressure and Joginder Sharma’s cool head and fuller length saved the night for the host but the warning signs were clear for Super Kings.
Muralitharan’s four overs — the left-handed Ganguly would be keen to have a go at the off-spinner — could have a major say in the match’s outcome.