Venue: Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, India
Date: Friday, May 30
Start time: 3:30 p.m. BST/8:00 p.m. local
Weather: The Weather Channel predicts a clear evening in Mumbai with a temperature of around 29°C and humidity of 74 percent.
The Kings XI Punjab are using their last available life in the Indian Premier League when they take on five-time finalists Chennai Super Kings in the second qualifier at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday.
After a rock-solid season, KXIP not only made it to the playoff stages for the first time since the tournament's inaugural season in 2008, but also found themselves deservedly at the top of the points table coming in.
Our players have complemented each other and have been eager to play & win. And they've been rewarded with top place! pic.twitter.com/pfFAekrqcK— Kings XI Punjab (@lionsdenkxip) May 27, 2014
However, a loss against a resurgent Kolkata Knight Riders in the first qualifier brought them back to the ground. KXIP would have considered themselves unlucky on the day, since the rains in Kolkata brought the constant threat of Duckworth-Lewis calculations to their chase, but the loss would have told them that they aren't guaranteed their first-ever IPL title.
Chennai, on the other hand, came into the playoffs on the back of three consecutive losses, having already secured qualification earlier after a typically strong season. The defeats relegated them out of the top two, which would have got them the safety of a second life, but they showed their two-time champion qualities as they brought Mumbai Indians' fairy tale crashing down in the eliminator.
Punjab and Chennai have arguably been the strongest two teams this season. Their first encounter, in the United Arab Emirates, saw Punjab chasing down what seemed an improbable target of 205 with consummate ease, in a game that announced the rise of Glenn Maxwell, who blitzed his way to a 43-ball 95.
Their second meeting, in Cuttack, India, saw Maxwell carry on from where he left off as he bludgeoned 90 off just 38 balls to take KXIP to the highest total of this season—231, which was a bit too much for CSK to chase.
CSK have the winning momentum going into the match, and their past experience of playing in all the playoffs so far since the tournament's inception would place them as favourites. For Punjab, it's been a while since they were at a similar stage and are yet to reach their first final. They couldn't look for a better motivation to do so, after coming so far and performing so well this season.
Chennai Super Kings
MS Dhoni (c & wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Suresh Raina, Francois du Plessis, Dwayne Smith, David Hussey, Brendon McCullum, Ashish Nehra, Mohit Sharma, Ishwar Pandey, Ben Hilfenhaus, John Hastings, Samuel Badree, Matt Henry, Mithun Manhas, Vijay Shankar, Ronit More, Baba Aparajith, Pawan Negi.
Kings XI Punjab
George Bailey (c), David Miller, Manan Vohra, Mitchell Johnson, Glenn Maxwell, Virender Sehwag, Rishi Dhawan, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Shaun Marsh, Cheteshwar Pujara, Beuran Hendricks, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Thisara Perera, Gurkeerat Mann Singh, Murali Kartik, Sandeep Sharma, Mandeep Singh, Akshar Patel, Parvinder Awana, Shardul Thakur, Anureet Singh, Shivam Sharma, Karanveer Singh.
Players to Watch
Punjab have lost some of their spunk from earlier in the season and a major reason for that would be that Maxwell's form has dipped. After the 90 against CSK, his following scores in the tournament were 25, 14, 43, 14, two, zero and six. The shaving of the beard may not have worked in his favour but he is due a big game, and CSK could be caught in the headlights if they fail to acknowledge his threat.
That being said, for all their prowess with the bat, Chennai's bowling has been their forte this season. Unlike other teams, three CSK bowlers have taken more than 15 wickets in the season: Mohit Sharma (22), Ravindra Jadeja (19) and Ravichandran Ashwin (15). If there is anyone who can stop Maxwell from getting back to form, it is these guys. Sharma, the Purple Cap holder, has stood out this season and is an obvious pick for a player to watch out for.
Kings XI Punjab are not the favourites for this match but still play with a lot of expectations riding on them after such a brilliant season. Our prediction is that the table toppers will not disappoint their fans and will prevent CSK from reaching their sixth final in seven seasons, in yet another high-scoring encounter at the Wankhede.