CSK v KKR: Match 1 Preview

April 7, 2011

Another multi starrer tournament kicks off with the hullabaloo of India’s memorable World Cup win yet to die down. The IPL, a leaner, meaner and raunchier version of cricket kicks off with the defending champions, Chennai Super Kings facing off against the Kolkata Knight Riders.

There are, however, many points to prove to scores of people all around the world.

1. Gautam Gambhir – that the team can be successful without Sourav Ganguly.

2. MS Dhoni – that there is still ambition left in him after the WC triumph.

3. The BCCI – that IPL minus Lalith Modi can also be a huge success.

4. IPL – that there’s never too much cricket.

After weeks of grueling battles for cricket’s biggest honour, teammates will now be on opposite sides for the next 51 days to fight for the Indian Premier League. Chennai Super Kings, the defending champions, take on the tournament’s perennial under performers, Kolkata Knight Riders in the inaugural game of IPL IV. MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan and Gautam Gambhir, part of the World Cup winning Indian side now find themselves pitted against each other in the tournament opener. The two teams cannot have been more different with Chennai being one of the tournament’s most consistent performers, having made the last 4 on all three occasions while lifting the trophy once, KKR on the other hand have failed to live up to the expectations after a brilliant opening on the first day of IPL 1.

Chennai Super Kings

The defending champions go into the game with almost the same side they had last year; they retained 4 of their top players from the previous editions while also buying back R Ashwin, S Badrinath, D Bollinger and M Hussey among others. Their major concern however will be whether Dhoni, Raina and Ashwin have recovered from the World Cup victory hangover.

Their coach, Stephen Fleming is looking at the glass half full saying that the World Cup has been the ideal preparation for the IPL and it will allow their players to hit the ground running. Dhoni however was more critical of the hectic schedule.

The other concern will be the loss of two key bowlers, M Muralitharan and D Bollinger (due to injury), who have been key to Chennai’s success so far. That means, a lot of onus falls on Ashwin and Albie Morkel and should one fail it could make the job much harder for Dhoni.

The Super Kings, much like the Dhoni-led India squad, aren’t great starters. In the previous 3 editions they have managed to get off to a winning start only once, in the inaugural edition when Michael Hussey smashed a brilliant 100.

Kolkata Knight Riders

The Kolkata Knight Riders went in for a complete revamp after a disastrous first three editions, choosing to even leave out their talisman, Sourav Ganguly. Gautam Gambhir was bought for a record price of $2.4 million, Yusuf Pathan too came at a huge price. They chose to bring in proven performers instead of just big names – Jacques Kallis, Shakib al Hasan, Eoin Morgan, Brett Lee and Ryan ten Doeschate testify the fact.

The Knight Riders have somehow failed to deliver to their massive fan base across India. They finished 6th in the first edition, last in the 2nd edition and 6th again in the 2010 essay and Gambhir, who was instilled as the captain, will have a job at hand trying to convince their fans that the team can click without Ganguly.

They have however fared better in the opening matches when compared to the Super Kings, winning 2 out of their 3 matches, including a 140 run walloping they handed to Royal Challengers Bangalore in the first match of IPL 1.

Players to watch out for:

R Ashwin – Ashwin burst onto the scene in IPL and is renowned for tight bowling under pressure, but the youngster has always had Murali for support and advice. Now that Murali has been snapped up by Kochi, Ashwin finds himself with an unfamiliar role – their team’s premier bowler. Will the pressure get to him, or will his cool head overcome this as well remains to be seen.

Jacques Kallis – The burly South African all-rounder will have to play a key role if KKR are to erase memories of their previous disasters. With the team missing out on a few key players due to the Australia – Bangladesh series, Kallis will provide Gambhir with the extra option with the ball while also batting like only he can.

Head to head:

CSK have won 4 of the 6 meetings between the two teams. KKR have won once while the other game was washed out.

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