Saturday, 4 October 2014

CLT20: Depleted KKR face resurgent CSK

BANGALORE: The last time Chennai Super Kings turned out at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, there was a lot of apprehension about their chances of squeezing into the semifinal.

But skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, a proficient hand at pulling rabbits out of the hat did just that to outsmart all opponents en route to the final.

CSK's supporters -- thousands have already descended on Bangalore -- believe the force is with him.

If it is, the Kolkata Knight Riders will feel the full blast in the final of the CLT20 on Saturday.

KKR are already reeling from the unexpected loss of their high impact bowler Sunil Narine. Reported by the umpires for chucking in two successive matches, the West Indian spinner will not be permitted to bowl again in this tournament.

He was KKR's trump card for the last couple of years as batsmen on the lookout for quick runs, were harried by variations camouflaged by a dubious action.

By reporting him and other transgressors for flawed bowling action, the umpires have rightly demonstrated that they will not be swayed by prodigious turn, innovative variations or express speed.

Luckily for KKR, there are two reasons why they can still breathe easy and compete with CSK on an even footing. Firstly, the Chinnaswamy Stadium pitch on which the final will be played, will not really be conducive to spinners and KKR could get better dividends by including Aussie pacer Pat Cummins instead.

Also, KKR's new find, Kuldeep Yadav, who bowls left-arm chinaman and googlies is a pretty handy bowler and could cushion the blow felt by the absence of Narine.

KKR might also opt to field just two Indian spinners and instead go in with an extra medium-pacer in R Vinay Kumar or Umesh Yadav to complement the efforts of Andre Russell, Jacques Kallis and Cummins on a pitch expected to have good carry.

Their batting, with Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey getting amongst the runs is in fine shape and if Yusuf Pathan, skipper Gautam Gambhir, Suryakumar Yadav and Jacques Kallis can chip in usefully, KKR will be able to match CSK man for man and blow for blow.

CSK, though, is a team that knows how to win matches. Dhoni, besides being street smart has led by intuition which, more often than not, has worked well for him. They also have a number of match winners, particularly batsmen. The bowling suffers in comparison, but is still not to be scoffed at.

Their fielding, where Suresh Raina, Dwayne Bravo, Brendon McCullum and Ravindra Jadeja have dazzled, has made the bowling appear more potent than it appears.

Usually, finals do not live up to the billing. But this game, where two evenly matched teams slug it out on a ground and pitch tailor-made for T20 cricket, could well be a run-feast.

The fact that the finalists are both Indian teams who are extremely adept in the T20 format, also proves that they, rather than teams from other countries, have unravelled the intricacies of playing this format in this part of the world.

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