The exalted position is one quite familiar to Chennai Super Kings. Assured of a place in the playoffs, the champion side uses the last few matches to iron out the rough edges.
After the rude wake-up call by Mumbai Indians, CSK showed what it is capable of by destroying an in-form Delhi Capitals. Now that CSK is sure of being in the top two, another unconstrained performance against Kings XI Punjab is likely here on Sunday.
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The battle of ‘Kings’ on Sunday lost much sheen after Punjab’s hopes of making the playoffs were crushed by KKR on Friday.
So, Kings XI is left looking to finish a disappointing campaign with a consolation win. However, CSK is too professional to give away any points in charity.
Chennai, on the other hand, has had several significant contributors to its victories. The vastly-experienced side, however, is looking for more from its top-order. At times, its frailties were pushed into the background, thanks to what a fit-again Dhoni does best at the death.
Though Ambati Rayudu and Kedar Jadhav together have aggregated only 380 runs from 13 matches each, the think-tank is unlikely to rethink.
Many a time, the wicket-taking skills of Imran Tahir, Deepak Chahar, Ravindra Jadeja — not to forget Harbhajan Singh’s contribution — have rescued CSK.
For Kings XI, very little seems to have changed from the last season, when it finished with five straight losses. Now, it comes into the final league fixture having lost six out of seven matches, including the last four.
Though K.L. Rahul has contributed most runs, his slow starts hurt the team’s prospects whenever Chris Gayle and Mayank Agarwal do not fire.
To compound Kings XI’s woes, the bowlers have been too generous in the power-play. Singularly, if Sam Curran had contributed consistently with his all-round abilities, Kings XI could have been looking ahead to the playoffs. As things stand, the host has very little left to lose.
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