With a slim hope of making the IPL semi-finals, Chennai Super Kings take on the vanquished Kings XI Punjab in their must-win final preliminary match in Dharamsala on Sunday.
With 12 points, Chennai are fifth in the tally and to be inside the top-four, they have to win on Sunday and hope other results go their way.
Not only do Chennai have to win, they have to win big to make sure that they remain ahead of other contenders in the net run rate which is a healthy +0.270 right now.
Punjab, on the other hand, continue to languish at the bottom with four wins and a staggering nine losses. But they have become dreaded party poopers in the later half of the tournament after being decimated in the first few weeks.
They have already upstaged Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils and Chennai would do well not to underestimate them despite the many problems that plague Punjab.
It’s not just the poor on-field results, Punjab have also been in the news for the speculation surrounding their stake-holding.
First, there were rumours of some stakeholders trying to sell of their shares of the beleaguered outfit and after the much publicised spat between Lalit Modi and junior foreign minister Shashi Tharoor, Punjab’s offices were raided by the Income Tax department on Friday.
Add to this, the speculation on whether their star player Yuvraj Singh would stick around after this season and Punjab seem like a house of troubles.
The on-field poor show has further added to the gloom. Yuvraj has been off-colour all through and Australian Shaun Marsh has not been consistent either.
The Sri Lankan duo of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara did well on Friday against Deccan Chargers but they have not been consistent enough.
S Sreesanth has been making more news for his temperamental on-field behaviour then his bowling and it would be quite a surprise if they manage to pull off a win over Chennai.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Chennai come to cool climes of Dharamsala from the sweltering heat of their base city, making it a pleasant change for them.
They lost Delhi in their last match owing to a stunning batting collapse and would have to ensure that it is not repeated here.
The likes of Matthew Hayden, Suresh Raina, Michael Hussey and Dhoni himself have to click in unison to ensure that the team wins and wins big.
Majestic spinner R Ashwin has given good starts to his side and Chennai would expect an encore from him.