The 2014 Indian Premier League is reaching boiling point with only two games remaining, and Friday sees the tournament's two biggest-hitting sides face off for Qualifier 2 in Mumbai.
Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab were the top two teams in the table for much of the league phase of IPL 7, but Kolkata Knight Riders' extraordinary winning streak saw the Super Kings eventually pushed into third.
Punjab finished top of the league but have been forced into Qualifier 2 after losing to Kolkata on Wednesday, while Chennai overcame Mumbai in the Eliminator.
Thus, the two teams now go head-to-head with the winner proceeding to the final to take on Kolkata.
Read on for the key viewing information, a prediction and a look at the form of both sides ahead of Friday's vital contest.
Date: Friday, May 30
Time: 3:30 p.m. BST, 10:30 a.m. ET, 8 p.m. local time
TV Info, Live Stream: ITV4 (UK), Sony Six, Star Sports HD, Star Sports 1 (India), SuperSport (South Africa), OSN (UAE), Sky TV (New Zealand), Network Ten (Australia), Channel 9 (Bangladesh), Sportsnet and Omni (Canada), Sports Max (West Indies), Geo Super (Pakistan) and Starhub (Singapore)
By the very nature of this match being Qualifier 2 of the IPL's unique knockout stage, one side comes into it on the back of a win and one after a loss.
Chennai will have some momentum from their Eliminator win over a resurgent Mumbai side on Wednesday, which eventually saw the Super Kings prevail comfortably by seven wickets.
On the other hand, Kings XI will have to pick themselves up after their loss to a Kolkata side who are on a sublime run, and have now won eight games in a row, per cricket statistician Mohandas Menon.
The form team of the league phase—they lost only three games—Punjab comfortably topped the table, four points ahead of the Knight Riders.
However, they were downed by 28 runs chasing 163 on Wednesday and did not seem to be able to reach the heights that have seen them record the top three highest totals in this year's tournament, per ESPNcricinfo.
Despite this loss, Punjab are arguably in better form long-term than Chennai, as the Super Kings had a slightly stuttering end to the league phase.
MS Dhoni's men lost three of their last four games, which meant they eventually finished third on net run-rate, despite having looked a shoo-in for the top two for much of the tournament.
Conversely, Kings XI lost just one of their last five games in the league, by seven wickets to Mumbai Indians, and have been the most consistent team throughout the tournament so far.
Thus, the form book does not seem to offer up a clear favourite for Qualifier 2. Chennai come in on a winning high, but their long-term form is not great.
Punjab have been consistently excellent but must pick themselves up from a loss. It seems a mightily difficult one to call.
Chennai and Punjab are both big-hitting sides. As mentioned above, Kings XI have the top-three highest scores of this year's tournament, Super Kings have the fourth, all totals of over 200.
Cricket writer Freddie Wilde notes that they are the two sides to have hit the most sixes in IPL 7, with Punjab's Glenn Maxwell and Chennai's Dwayne Smith the two most prolific individual scorers of maximums, with 35 and 34 respectively, per IPLT20.com.
Of the top five highest run scorers in the 2014 IPL, three are from these two sides, Suresh Raina joining Maxwell and Smith.
In David Hussey and Dhoni, Chennai boast the two best averages in the competition, per ESPNcricinfo.
Runs are almost guaranteed in this matchup, look no further than when the two sides met in the league phase of this year's competition.
Their first encounter saw Punjab win by six wickets, chasing down the 205 set by Chennai which included a 66 from Smith and a 67 from Brendon McCullum.
When they met for a second time, Kings XI posted an absurd total of 231, including a 38-ball 90 from Maxwell, a score never before inflicted on the Super Kings, per cricket journalist Mazher Arshad:
This proved too much for Chennai who, nevertheless, recorded a highly respectable 187 while chasing. Expect fireworks on Friday, as well as punters in the crowd running for cover as the ball clears the ropes.
In the bowling department, Chennai boast the competition's most prolific wicket-taker in Mohit Sharma who has 22 dismissals in 49.5 overs, per ESPNcricinfo. However, his economy rate of 8.14 is a worry, especially against Kings XI.
Punjab's Akshar Patel's 6.22 economy rate is one of the tournament's best, and if he can keep things tight on Friday, he will have a major role to play.
Unfortunately for the bowlers, though, this looks to be a batsman's game when it may simply be down to just how many boundaries either team can score.
If it does indeed come to that, Kings XI have to be favourites, considering the two league matches between the sides and Punjab's consistency during the tournament.
Prediction: Kings XI Punjab to defeat Chennai Super Kings and advance to the final
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