Chennai Super Kings host defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders in the first of two games to be played in the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Sunday. The game will be held at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
Where to Watch Live
Play starts at 11am BST. Live coverage will be available on ITV 4 and ITV 4 HD. Follow the match live, via text updates, on ESPN Cricinfo.
The Super Kings play a third consecutive home game today and will be confident of making it three wins in three and five wins from the last five games. However, they will want a more convincing win than either of the last two, both of which went down to the final two balls of their innings.
They beat Sunrisers Hyderabad in their last game and that needed captain MS Dhoni to provide late heroics in the team's pursuit of 160 to win. Dhoni's 67 off 37 balls included a last over six that set up the win. Prior to that, in the home game against Rajasthan Royals, the two-time champions needed West Indian Dwayne Bravo to play the hero; admittedly that was a stiffer 186-run chase.
Nevertheless, the Chennai team continue to re-affirm their position as pre-tournament favourites and IPL powerhouses. They boast a team with remarkable depth in batting and that has bailed them out on more than one occasion. However, the lack of a properly incisive fast bowler to lead the bowling attack has troubled them in recent games and campaigns; they haven't had such a bowler since South African Makhaya Ntini retired in 2010.
At present, South Africans Chris Morris and Albie Morkel, with Australians Dirk Nannes, Ben Hilfenhaus and Bravo for company, provide the pace, with India seniors Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja backing them with spin. It isn't quite the most dangerous attack in the league but is a very capable one.
Meanwhile, the champions of 2012 are struggling and unless there is a massive turnaround in form in the second half of the season, Kolkata are likely to fail to progress to the knock-out stages. Gautam Gambhir's side have only three wins from eight games and although they are only two wins off a top four place, their performances do not suggest dramatic improvement.
They do come with a win behind them, though, after beating Kings XI Punjab by six wickets. Manvinder Bisla, Jacques Kallis and Eoin Morgan combined to hunt down Punjab's 149/6. Like Chennai, Kolkata boast a strong batting line-up but one that has yet to fire as Dhoni's men have.
Gambhir has played the captain's role, leading from the front, and has four half-centuries so far this season, including three in a row. However, his last three innings have been a little disappointing. Veteran South African all-rounder Kallis is rediscovering his form and Englishman Eoin Morgan has been steady without being explosive.
The bowling could do with a big boost as well. Lakshmipathy Balaji, a former Super Kings player has not been as effective with his new team as he was with CSK. Kallis had a good spell a few games back, picking up three wickets each against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Punjab (the reverse fixture) but, again, consistency is proving to be a problem. Kolkata do, however, have West Indian Sunil Narine, who boasts a hugely impressive record of
Chennai Super Kings
- Last Five (most recent first): W W W W L
- Last Result: Chennai Super Kings beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by five wickets
Kolkata Knight Riders
- Last Five (most recent first): W L L L W
- Last Result: Kolkata Knight Riders beat Kings XI Punjab by six wickets
Chennai are unlikely to make any changes to a winning combination. Australian batsman Michael Hussey is in superb form and provides a solid foundation for middle-order hitters like Suresh Raina, Dhoni, Jadeja and Bravo. A point of concern will be Murali Vijay's form but, for now, Dhoni is not likley to tamper with his side. Morris and India youngster Mohit Sharma will lead the pace attack, with Ashwin backing them.
Sunil Narine is key for Kolkata. The champions need the West Indian to do a two-pronged job: take wickets and contain the scoring. Narine has a career economy rate, in T20s, of 5.89, which is phenomenal. And the fact he is the tournament's second-highest wicket taker means Chennai will have to be careful about playing him. For the rest, the bowlers will be expected to keep it tight against Chennai's batsmen and the trio of Kallis, Morgan and Gambhir tasked with scoring.
Neither side can play Sri Lankan cricketers in this game, due to an ongoing political situation between the Indian and Sri Lankan governments. This means pacer Nuwan Kulasekara and spinner Akila Dananjaya are unavailable for the hosts and off-break specialist Sachithra Senanayake is out for the visitors.