IPL 2019: Homecoming for R. Ashwin as Kings XI takes on Super Kings

R. Ashwin is set to play his first IPL contest as part of an opposition team at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium as Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings lock horns on Saturday.

Having played much of his cricket at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium, R. Ashwin knows the conditions well.   -  R. Ragu

On a hot, humid Friday afternoon, a young boy dressed in yellow, stood patiently holding a placard that read 'Welcome Thala Dhoni'.

While, another group, dressed in whites was trying to get a glimpse of Chennai's own son Ravichandran Ashwin. For a fan, the stakes are high when Kings XI Punjab takes on Chennai Super Kings in an IPL match at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium.

For the first time in the IPL, Chennai boy Ashwin, will be playing here as part of an opposition team. He leads Kings XI Punjab, a side that is positioned second in the points table, having secured two wins out of three matches. The home team — Chennai Super Kings — is third, with the same number of wins. 

Fans lined up on either side of the road, leading to the stadium, braving the harsh sun as chants of 'Dhoni, Dhoni' only grew louder. The Super Kings are back in their den.

Dhoni vs Ashwin

If Dhoni is calm and collected, Ashwin, on the other hand, is a competitive captain on the field.

Ashwin as a captain like to experiment and it will be interesting to see what kind of tactics he employs on the match day.

On the eve of the match, Ashwin hardly bowled at the nets and preferred throwdowns and ground fielding, while Dhoni kept tonking the white ball into the stands — much to the delight of a small group of fans.

Spin factor

Chepauk has produced two contrasting pitches in the last two games. In the first game, Bangalore was bundled out for a paltry 70, the second game saw Chennai score 175 before taming Rajasthan Royals by eight runs.

Ashwin knows the conditions well, Punjab also has the spin services of Murugan Ashwin and Varun Chakravarthy. Harbhajan Singh played a vital role in the season opener and if the track assists spin, the veteran off-spinner will be the trump card along with Tahir and Ravindra Jadeja for Chennai.

RELATED | Ashwin to spin a web for CSK at home?

Bravo factor & combinations

Dhoni has been in sublime form, but Chennai would be slightly worried about Ambati Rayudu's form. The likes of Suresh Raina, Shane Watson and Kedar Jadhav provide the right balance, but Rayudu's return to form will benefit the yellow army.

M. S. Dhoni at a net session on Friday at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium. Photo: PTI

 

For Punjab, Chris Gayle in all certainty should be back in the side after missing the last game and the likes of K.L. Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and David Miller have been in good touch.

After his bowlers were taken to the cleaners by the Mumbai Indians' batsmen, Dhoni would like an improved show from his bowlers. Shardul Thakur provided the breakthroughs in the first three games before fizzling out against Mumbai. Chennai's death bowling has been a concern and Dhoni would be relieved if his bowlers stick to the plans. On the other hand, Punjab has the likes of Mohammed Shami, Andrew Tye and Hardus Viljoen in its ranks to make the contest even.

Bravo's injury is a setback for Chennai, who suffered a hamstring injury in the last game with the star all-rounder being ruled out for two weeks. New Zealand bowling all-rounder Scott Kuggeleign could take his place.

Form Guide

Kings XI is on the crest of a wave, having secured back-to-back wins — against Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals. After a smooth start, the defending champion, on the other hand, suffered its first defeat in its last contest — against Mumbai Indians.

Squads
  • Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (c, wk), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Murali Vijay, Kedar Jadhav, Sam Billings, Ravindra Jadeja, Dhruv Shorey, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Rituraj Gaikwad, Dwayne Bravo, Karn Sharma, Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Santner, Shardul Thakur, Mohit Sharma, K. M. Asif, Deepak Chahar, N. Jagadeesan (wk), Scott Kuggeleign.
  • Kings XI Punjab: Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Chris Gayle, K. L. Rahul (wk), Mohammed Shami, Mayank Agrawal, Karun Nair, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, David Miller, Sam Curran, Varun Chakaravarthy, Nicholas Pooran, Moises Henriques, Hardus Viljoen, Darshan Nalkande, Sarfaraz Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Agnivesh Ayachi, Harpreet Brar, Murugan Ashwin, Andrew Tye, Ankit Rajpoot, Mandeep Singh, Simran Singh.
  • Match starts at 4 pm (IST).