Out of reckoning for the playoffs, IPL debutants Kochi Tuskers Kerala would aim to sign off on a positive note but that looks easier said than done as they take on the unbeaten-at-home defending champions Chennai Super Kings in an IPL match in Chennai on Wednesday.
It is an unequal battle given the fine form Chennai are in but Kochi have sprung a few surprises in the event.
Chennai have kept a clean slate at home, winning all the six matches in their backyard. Placed second in the league table, Chennai have won eight matches out of the 12 they have played.
Kochi have no chance of making the qualifiers as they don’t just have to win big against Chennai, they also have to pray that Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab lose their remaining two matches.
This is Tuskers last league outing, while Chennai have their last match against Royal Challengers slated for May 22 in Bangalore.
Interestingly, Kochi had beaten Chennai in their earlier match through the Duckworth-Lewis method after rain reduced the game to a 17-overs-a-side affair.
Things have turned around dramatically for Chennai after that but the same cannot be said about Kochi as they have not shown consistency in the tournament so far.
Kochi’s regular captain Mahela Jayawardene would not be at the helm for the team’s final IPL game this season as he has left for England to join the Sri Lankan national team for an upcoming Test series.
In his absence, Parthiv Patel, who has been selected for next month’s tour of the West Indies, is expected to lead the side.
The problem with Kochi has been the lack of consistent performance from the team’s star players such as Brendon McCullum, Brad Hodge and Owais Shah. Hodge, however, did come good in their previous match against the Rajasthan Royals.
Even with such inconsistent performances, Jayawardene had brought about victories against top three teams on the points table – Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders.
Considering their knack for upsets, Kochi cannot be completely counted out of Wednesday’s contest.
Kochi’s bowling lacks in many respects as Rudra Pratap Singh, the wily left-arm seamer, has been a letdown and the temperamental Sreesanth has been more of his usual tantrum-throwing self rather than a disciplined performer.
As for Chennai, revenge would be high on the agenda. Apart from the home advantage, Chennai players have gelled very well on the field and the bowlers have won quite a few matches for them besides the already strong batting line up.
Kochi Tuskers Kerala: Parthiv Patel (c), Brendon McCullum, VVS Laxman, Owais Shah, Brad Hodge,Ravindra Jadeja, Thisara Perera, Rudra Pratap Singh, Ramesh Powar, R Vinay Kumar, Muttiah Muralitharan, B Akhil, Chandan Madan, Deepak Chougule, Kedar Jadav, Raiphi Gomez, Sushant Marathe, Tanmay Srivastava, Y Gnaneswara Rao, Yashpal Singh, Prasanth Padmanabhan, Steven Smith, John Hastings.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (capt & wk), Srikkanth Anirudha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Subramaniam Badrinath, George Bailey, Doug Bollinger, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Ben Hilfenhaus, Michael Hussey, Shadab Jakati, Joginder Sharma, Suraj Randiv, Nuwan Kulasekara, Yo Mahesh, Albie Morkel, Abhinav Mukund, Suresh Raina, Wriddhiman Saha, Tim Southee, Scott Styris, Sudeep Tyagi, Kuthethurshri Vasudevadas, Ganapathi Vignesh, Murali Vijay.