Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders will clash in a make-or-break Indian Premier League match in Chennai on Tuesday, the outcome of which will decide if they can still be in race for a semi-final spot.
Both the teams need to win all the three remaining games if they are to stand any chance of qualifying for the last-four stage and the team that ends on the wrong side of the result would be out of contention.
They are on equal points having won five of their 11 matches but the hosts are at the fifth place in the points table, ahead of Kolkata Knight Riders due to their better net run-rate.
The hosts have a psychological edge as they have beaten Knight Riders in the away encounter but that defeat at home would push Kolkata even more for the win.
Both the teams are coming into the clash after defeats in their last encounters and an exasperated Sourav Ganguly even went to the extent of saying that his side played “rubbish” on Saturday against Royal Challengers Bangalore and did not deserve to be in semifinals.
It remains to be seen how Ganguly, who has been a great leader, motivates his player to live up to challenge after publicly critisising the side.
Chennai have a solid team on paper but performed below par. The top order performance would be key to their fate although they have made efforts to add sting to their attack by adding Australian paceman Doug Bollinger.
Matthew Hayden at the top and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the middle-order have not been to their destructive best but Tuesday is the time when they will have to come out of the shell.
Considering the hot weather conditions and slow nature of the pitch at the M A Chidambaram stadium, getting the right combination will also be a challenge and crucial to teams’ strategies.
Even Sachin Tendulkar, a seasoned batsman and a stalwart of the game, struggled to adjust to conditions in Chennai in the last match.
For Chennai, the challenge would be to contain hard-hitting Caribbean batsman Chris Gayle. He batted with great vigour against Bangalore on Saturday and getting him early would only help their cause.
Middle-order is a worry for Kolkata as their lacklustre show let advantage slip out of hands on Saturday.
Manoj Tiwary and Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews have a big responsibility on their shoulders in the middle-order.
In the bowling, apart from Ajantha Mendis and to some extent Ashok Dinda others have not been that impressive and need to pull up their socks in this do-or-die situation.