The season which had started so promisingly for Ashwin and Co. has suddenly got out of their grasp and they find themselves in a position where they are almost as good as gone.
Cricket news: Can Punjab do justice to their dominant season-start or will Chennai punish them for their later mistakes
Having started the season with five wins out of seven games, Kings XI Punjab went into a one-week break. Upon returning they failed to replicate their previous performances and won just one game out of six matches they played.
Punjab are going to Chennai Super Kings on in Pune on May 20 Sunday for their last league encounter. Punjab will have one distinct advantage before going into the match, as being the last game they would exactly know what they would have to do in order to qualify for the playoffs.
But their disadvantage is their poor NRR which makes them the least favourite team. They would need a very special performance and would have to beat CSK by a large margin, which would improve their NRR.
This might help them to overtake Rajasthan Royals, who themselves do not have a good NRR. However all these calculations would become ineffective if Mumbai Indians win their last league game against bottom-placed Delhi Daredevils.
Punjab would have never been in this state, had they not showed over-dependence on KL Rahul and Andrew Tye, the current orange cap and purple cap holder respectively.
On the other hand Chennai would look to cement their top two finish, which they would have previously done had Delhi not defeated them by 34 runs.
In the match against Delhi, the Chennai batsmen were always well behind the asking rate despite Rayudu’s half century. Chennai will also be worried with their death bowling, as Bravo gave away 26 runs in the last over against Delhi which proved to be the decisive factor.
Venue – Maharashtra Cricket Stadium, Pune
CSK Probable XI: Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, Sam Billings, MS Dhoni (wk & c), Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Lungi Ngidi
KXIP Probable XI: Lokesh Rahul (wk), Chris Gayle, Aaron Finch, Yuvraj Singh/Karun Nair, Manoj Tiwary, Marcus Stoinis/Mujeeb ur Rahman, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Andrew Tye, Mohit Sharma, Ankit Rajpoot