Mohali, May 15: Not in a mood to leave anything to chance, table-toppers Chennai Super Kings (CSK) would be gunning for a win against bottom-placed Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) in their last league match to seal their place among the top-two in the play-offs of the Indian Premier League 2015 ournament, here tomorrow. (5 teams, 5 matches and battle for 3 spots)
CSK are presently leading the eight-team points table with 16 points from eight wins out of 13 games, and a victory tomorrow would guarantee their place in the top-two. They are already through to the playoffs.
But a loss against Kings XI can jeopardise CSK's hopes of finishing as number 1 or 2 because as many as five teams are breathing down their neck and in that scenario the MS Dhoni-led side's fate will depend on the outcome of the remaining league matches.
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) are placed second in the standings on 15 points from 13 games, followed by Sunrisers Hyderabad (14 points which from 12 games), Mumbai Indians (14 points from 13 games), Rajasthan Royals (14 points from 13 games) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (13 points from 12 games), and all these teams are in with a chance to make it to the play-offs.
The only two teams that are out of the reckoning are Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI.
The CSK thinktank would be a worried lot coming into the match as they suffered a six-wicket defeat against Delhi Daredevils in their previous match earlier this week in Raipur.
Big names in CSK team
In that match, despite having big names like Dwayne Smith, Suresh Raina, Faf du Plesis, skipper Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo, CSK's batting fell by the wayside and could only manage 119 for six against Delhi's determined bowling attack. McCullum will not be available for this match as he has gone back for national duty. Michael Hussey is expected to take his place at the top of the order.
And Dhoni would be hoping for a much-improved show from his batting department tomorrow.
Over dependence on McCullum to provide a breezy start is seen a major weakness of CSK in this edition of the tournament as whenever the Kiwi got out early the Chennai outfit's middle-order struggled to keep up the pace of the innings. And now he will not be there.
On the bowling front, Ashish Nehra has been leading the CSK's bowling attack with remarkable consistency and he has found good support from pacer Mohit Sharma and the spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin.
Kings XI, on the other hand, have nothing to lose and would look to spoil CSK's party tomorrow.
CSK start as favourites
Having registered only their third win in the tournament by beating Royal Challengers Bangalore by 22 runs here on Wednesday, Kings XI would look to finish their disappointing IPL 8 campaign on a high tomorrow.
But it would be easier said than done as Kings XI were mauled by 97 runs by CSK in their previous encounter this season.
Going by past record and present form, CSK will definitely start as overwhelming favourites against Kings XI.
After finishing runners-up last year, nothing seems to have gone right for Kings XI this season as they slumped to one defeat after another.
The Punjab side has not been able to play to its full potential despite having some big names.
In Murali Vijay, Manan Vohra, Wriddhiman Saha, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, David Miller and skipper Bailey, Punjab too has a formidable batting line-up but they never fired in unison and that had failed the side.
Kings XI Punjab: George Bailey (captain), Axar Patel, Anureet Singh, Beuran Hendricks, David Miller, Glenn Maxwell, Gurkeerat Mann Singh, Karanveer Singh, Manan Vohra, Mitchell Johnson, Parvinder Awana, Rishi Dhawan, Sandeep Sharma, Shardul Thakur, Shaun Marsh, Shivam Sharma, Thisara Perera, Virender Sehwag, Wriddhiman Saha (W), Murali Vijay, Nikhil Naik, Yogesh Golwalkar
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (C) (W), Ashish Nehra, Baba Aparajith, Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Bravo, Dwayne Smith, Francois du Plessis, Ishwar Pandey, Matt Henry, Mithun Manhas, Mohit Sharma, Pawan Negi, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Samuel Badree, Suresh Raina, Ronit More, Michael Hussey, Rahul Sharma, Kyle Abbott, Ankush Bains, Irfan Pathan, Pratyush Singh, Andrew Tye, Eklavya Dwivedi
Match starts 4 PM IST
Also playing on Saturday at 8 PM - RR Vs KKR (Match Preview)