The battle for the top spot heats up with defending champions Chennai hosts a hard-hitting Kolkata at MA Chidambaram Stadium on Tuesday.
The tie will see the very bests, with a tricky spinning department of Chennai taking on an uncompromising Kolkata’s batting unit, led by the likes of Chris Lynn and of course, Andre Russell.
The fact, however, remains that the West Indies giant hasn’t enjoyed a fruitful outing against spinners over the years, and his personal record against the likes of Ravindra Jadeja and Imran Tahir has tumbled his legacy as well.
Speaking of history, the head to head count outrightly favours the home team. The two Indian T20 League giants have collided 18 times in the past, with Dhoni’s brigade clinching victory 11 times. Kolkata, however, has been more successful as far as their last five fixtures are concerned; winning three and losing two.
One can expect a tactical masterclass, at least from Dhoni’s part, as he well and truly knows what kind of threat Russell and Co. carry. That being said, let’s have a look at the top picks from the fixture:
Batsman: Faf du Plessis
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A 38-ball 54 during his side’s 22-run victory over Punjab has made South Africa’s Faf du Plessis an outright favourite for the fixture. Now, one might look up to Lynn for the spot, but the fact remains that he hasn’t enjoyed the best of times in this edition of the Indian T20 League; scoring just 130 runs from five games.
Du Plessis, on his part, provides his side with a stable opening stance, something which the team lacked prior to his involvement. Team Chennai was the worst performing team in the powerplay before the Punjab game, but with du Plessis at the helm, Dhoni and his men can have a huge sigh of relief.
Bowler: Sunil Narine
Sajjad Hussain / AFP
This might come as a shocker, but Kolkata's Sunil Narine has been the most picked bowler for the fixture. In four matches thus far, the Windies spinner has only managed one wicket and leaks run at an economy of 8.23, which is fourth worst in the tournament. The likes of Kuldeep Yadav, K Gowtham and Sandeep Lamichhane acquire the first three spots respectively.
As far as bowling is concerned, Chennai’s Imran Tahir could have been a better pick, but what edges Narine ahead of Tahir is his ability with the bat. With an added propensity of hitting maximums, Narine is sure to give you extra points.
All-Rounder: Andre Russell
Sajjad Hussain / AFP
Was there ever a doubt about it? A season-high 22 sixes and three man-of-the-match performances in five games have made Dre Russell arguably the most feared batsmen of the tournament. He might not be that competent with the ball, but his artistry with the bat is sure to give you loads of bonuses.
On a personal scale, he needs 10 sixes to reach the 100-six mark and judging by his current form, there remains a possibility of reaching the milestone