IPL 2018: Ashwin’s Kings aims to challenge Super Kings’ run

Kings XI, clearly one among the more balanced teams in the fray, is capable of snapping CSK’s two-win sequence.

Can CSK make it three out of three against Kings XI on Sunday?   -  AKHILESH KUMAR

These are early days in this edition of the Indian Premier League. Teams are looking for ways to turn an effective combination into a winning one. Whether it is the eternal favourite Chennai Super Kings or the perennial under-performer Kings XI Punjab, all franchisees are in the test-run mode before the bigger battles.

When the two “Kings” clash here on Sunday evening, home skipper R. Ashwin will have the advantage of being aware of how the CSK think-tank approaches any match. An integral part of CSK in the past decade, Ashwin can be expected to use every bit of information from this mental database to help Kings XI come out stronger before a holiday crowd.

Which off-spinner will come out on top on Sunday?

 

Kings XI, clearly one among the more balanced teams in the fray, is capable of snapping CSK’s two-win sequence. Ashwin can be expected to pull CSK out of its comfort zone after the way it lifted itself from the dumps to chase down targets against Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders in last-over finishes.

 

Even before the start of the team’s campaign, Ashwin had spoken about springing surprises on the opposition. Change in the batting order is just one of them. Much like he tried 12 overs of spin against Royal Challengers in a losing cause on Friday night, Ashwin’s next trick could well be worth waiting.

Unlike Kings, CSK has to deal with unusual worries. The shifting of six home games to Pune means CSK’s original combination suited for home conditions will no longer be the same.

How the two teams have fared against each other

 

With England all-rounder David Willey replacing an injured Kedar Jadhav, a side-strain keeping Faf du Plessis away from action, M. Vijay recovering from a rib-injury and a calf-injury forcing Suresh Raina out for two games, CSK was further hit on Saturday when South African pacer Lungi Ngidi was flying back home on hearing the news of his father’s death. This has further limited CSK’s options.

Coach Stephen Fleming did touch upon the importance of Raina in the team but was quick to add, “We have replacements up the order. Dhruv Shorey and Vijay can fill the gap till Raina is fit again to play.”