IPL 2018: CSK aims to maintain top-spot

KKR, which has scored less than 160 just once so far, has amassed double hundred aggregates twice to show that it is capable of putting up big totals.

Both sides were engaged in a high-scoring thriller when CSK played the host about three weeks ago.   -  AP

Batsmen may dominate the scene when Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) hosts table topper Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in an Indian Premier League (IPL) contest at the Eden Gardens, here, on Thursday.

Both sides were engaged in a high-scoring thriller when CSK played the host about three weeks ago. The experienced CSK batsmen flexed their muscles to overhaul a tough target of 203, set by KKR.

CSK has crossed the 200-mark four times and has recorded the lowest total of 169 to underline its authority with the bat this season and ensure 12 points from six wins.

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Highest run-getter Ambati Rayudu, an in-form M.S.Dhoni, the accomplished Shane Watson and the reliable Suresh Raina have scored in excess of 200 runs, individually, to propel CSK's heavy duty performances. CSK has got good support from Dwayne Bravo and Sam Billings with the bat.

“The big guys still have a lot to give. The calmness around the group plays a big part,” says CSK coach Stephen Fleming, stressing the importance of having seasoned performers in the team.

 

KKR, which has scored less than 160 just once so far, has amassed double hundred aggregates twice to show that it is capable of putting up big totals. Some of its fine chases have enabled the fourth-placed KKR to pick up eight points from four victories.

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Flamboyant opener Chris Lynn, captain Dinesh Karthik and the dependable Andre Russell, who has also made significant contributions with his medium-pace bowling, have gathered more than 200 runs apiece, apart from Robin Uthappa (who has collected 199), to serve KKR well.

It has also benefitted from crucial knocks of Nitish Rana and all-rounder Sunil Narine. Rana’s lower back issue may be a cause of concern for the host.

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In bowling, CSK manages to check the opposition. Experienced hands such as Bravo, Watson, Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir, Ravindra Jadeja and youngsters including Shardul Thakur, K.M. Asif and Lungi Ngidi provide flexibility.

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KKR’s bowling unit has got variety – including spinners Narine, Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla, who hold the key, and a mix of pacers in Russell, Tom Curran, the seasoned Mitchell Johnson and under-19 World Cup winning sensation Shivam Mavi. It needs to grab wickets in powerplay overs to give the team an upper hand.

The Eden Gardens, where the home side has registered some big scores, may get divided between the loyalists of KKR and MSD.