After losing their opening match, Chennai Super Kings will return to their den — the MA Chidambaram stadium — for the first home match of the season against Lucknow Super Giants on Monday and aim to pick up a win.
When Mahendra Singh Dhoni leads his team here, the four-time champion will, without a doubt, receive a rapturous welcome as CSK return to the Chepauk after nearly four years.
Despite a superb knock from the classy Ruturaj Gaikwad, the rest of the batters could not capitalise and help CSK post a big total. The team’s fans will be hoping that the strong batting line-up rises to the occasion.
Gaikwad toyed with the Gujarat Titans bowlers and made batting look easy. His exit slowed things down and CSK could only make a modest score, which was chased down by the defending champions.
England superstar Ben Stokes, bought for Rs 16.25 crore, would be eager to show his worth in the team’s opening home game and set the pace for the long season ahead.
If the batters’ inability to force the pace in the middle overs is a cause for concern, the bowling could be a bigger problem.
The Titans batting line-up could not be restricted and skipper Dhoni would be expecting an improved show from the bowlers.
Dhoni, who uncorked a couple of big hits against Josh Little in Ahmedabad, would be hoping the batters do better and don’t leave much for him at the fag end.
He would be looking to open the points tally in front of an adoring Chepauk crowd but that would require a hugely improved performance.
The comforting factor for CSK would be the return to familiar conditions at the Chidambaram stadium, where the spinners are expected to have a big say as seen in the India-Australia third ODI played here 10 days ago.
Ravindra Jadeja and Mitchell Santner did not have much of an impact in the season opener, and they will be hoping to step up in Monday’s game.
Also, CSK could play an additional spinner in the XI. With Sri Lankan spinner Maheesh Theekshana not available for the team’s first three games, it would be interesting to see who is picked to bolster the spin bowling department.
Coach Stephen Fleming said after the defeat to the Titans that the team was a “bit match underdone” and CSK would be expected to pick up steam as the tournament progresses.
Up against the four-time champions are the KL Rahul-led LSG, who must have been buoyed by the comprehensive win over Delhi Capitals on Saturday night.
Kyle Mayers launched a furious assault at the top for the Super Giants and his performance would be crucial on a wicket not so conducive for over-the-top aggression.
Skipper Rahul, who has been under scrutiny in recent times for an extended run of below-par scores, Nicholas Pooras and Marcus Stoinis would be the other key batters for LSG.
The pacey Mark Wood, who dented Delhi’s hopes with his triple strike, will be the one CSK batters would be wary of. His searing pace could cause a few problems for the home team’s strong batting unit.
That apart, LSG spinners Ravi Bishnoi and K Gowtham would have a big role to play if the team hopes to keep the opposition batters in check.
An interesting battle is in the offing with the bowlers holding the key to the outcome.
CSK: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c), Devon Conway, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ambati Rayudu, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Ravindra Jadeja, Ajinkya Rahane, Sisanda Magala, Shivam Dube, Dwaine Pretorius, Ajay Mandal, Nishant Sindhu, Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Mitchell Santner, Subharnshu Senapati, Simarjeet Singh, Matheesha Pathirana, Mahesh Theekshana, Bhagath Verma, Prashant Solanki, Shaikh Rasheed, Tushar Deshpande.
Lucknow Super Giants: KL Rahul (c and wk), Kyle Mayers, Deepak Hooda, Krunal Pandya, Amit Mishra, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Naveen ul Haq, Ayush Badoni, Avesh Khan, Karan Sharma, Yudhvir Charak, Yash Thakur, Romario Shepherd, Mark Wood, Swapnil Singh, Manan Vohra, Daniel Sams, Prerak Mankad, Krishnappa Gowtham, Jaydev Unadkat, Marcus Stoinis, Ravi Bishnoi, Mayank Yadav.
Match starts at 7:30 p.m.