Shikhar Dhawan holds key for Punjab Kings against Chennai spinners
Batting first could be way to go
CHENNAI: The battle for top four berths is seriously heating up. And in the first day game of this IPL at Chepauk on Sunday with Chennai Super Kings taking on Punjab Kings, the temperatures are bound to soar. A tiring Chepauk pitch will get baked under the sun and there could be a change of strategy on offer.
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Slogging hasn’t been the easiest here and now with a 3.30pm start, there will be no dew later. It could mean that captains winning the toss might choose to bat first, a departure from the norm in T20s at Chepauk.
As the match will wear on, timing the big hits and playing across the line will get tougher and the spinners are primed to take charge. Putting up a good total and then slowing things down with the ball in the second half could thus be either team’s best shot at victory.
CSK are adept at this brand of cricket, and to stop Ravindra Jadeja, Maheesh Theekshana and Moeen Ali from running riot, PBKS skipper Shikhar Dhawan will have to play a major role. Dhawan has the skills to counter such condition, and as a batter of repute against spin, he will be expected to lead from the front.
Charismatic allrounder Sam Curran’s two-year CSK stint could also prove handy and PBKS will hope that he will bring that experience into play. Liam Livingstone, on the other hand, may find the going tough on a sluggish, turning track.
The home team is cognizant of the adjustments needed, and their assistant coach Eric Simmons says that understanding the conditions quickly when on the field holds the key.
“We have practised a bit in the daytime, so we have some sense of what it is about. It will play a role. Understanding what score you need to post or what you need to restrict the opposition to is a very important part of reading a day game,” Simmons said at the pre-match press conference on Saturday.
IPL 2023: CSK take on Punjab Kings in home return
Both sides are coming off losses after conceding 200-plus scores in their respective previous games. Punjab seamers Kagiso Rabada, Arshdeep Singh and Curran will look to brush off the drubbing received from Lucknow Super Giants’ batting, and leggie Rahul Chahar will try to stem the flow of runs like he has in the tourney so far.
For CSK, Matheesha Pathirana, Tushar Deshpande and Akash Singh have had to bowl the hard overs, and knowing the nature of the surface on Sunday, could be well served taking the pace off every now and then.
Watch IPL: Chennai Super Kings start as favourites vs Punjab Kings