After succumbing to a defeat in their season-opener, three-time champions Chennai take on Punjab in their second match of the Indian T20 League 2021 at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday, April 16.

Despite posting 188 on the board, MS Dhoni’s side failed to defend the total against Delhi, losing by seven wickets. Chennai would look for a much-improved bowling effort against a formidable Punjab batting line-up.

Meanwhile, Punjab secured their first win of the season as they defeated Rajasthan by 4 runs in a thriller on Monday. KL Rahul and his men had a narrow escape despite posting a steep target of 222 for Rajasthan.

Just like Chennai, Punjab will hope their bowlers can put in a better performance than their last game.

Punjab vs Chennai full squads

Punjab: KL Rahul (captain/wicket-keeper), Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Mandeep Singh, Prabsimran Singh (wicket-keeper), Nicholas Pooran (wicket-keeper), Sarfaraz Khan, Deepak Hooda, Murugan Ashwin, Ravi Bishnoi, Harpreet Brar, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh, Ishan Porel, Darshan Nalkande, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Jhye Richardson, Shahrukh Khan, Riley Meredith, Moises Henriques, Jalaj Saxena, Utkarsh Singh, Fabian Allen, Saurabh Kumar

Chennai: MS Dhoni (captain/wicket-keeper), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, KM Asif, Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, N Jagadeesan (wicket-keeper), Karn Sharma, Lungi Ngidi, Mitchell Santner, Ravindra Jadeja, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shardul Thakur, Sam Curran, Josh Hazlewood, R Sai Kishore, Moeen Ali, K Gowtham, Cheteshwar Pujara, Harishankar Reddy, Bhagath Varma, Hari Nishanth

Punjab vs Chennai probable XI

The Punjab franchise will be worried about the bowling department as Rajasthan captain Sanju Samson almost single-handedly took the game away from the KL Rahul-led side. Punjab’s new recruits Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith gave away 104 runs in their eight overs, picking up just two wickets. Leg-spinner Murugan Ashwin also failed to provide any breakthrough in the middle-overs as he conceded 43 runs in his four overs. Punjab are expected to bring in 20-year-old leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi in place of Murugan. There are no changes expected for Punjab in the batting department.

On the other hand, Chennai will hope for a better start from their openers Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis. However, they will be ecstatic that their all-time leading run-scorer Suresh Raina is back in good form after he smashed a scintillating fifty in their opening encounter against Delhi. Furthermore, South Africa pacer Lungi Ngidi is available for selection after he completed his mandatory seven-day quarantine. Chennai are expected to go in with the same side as their last game.

Punjab predicted XI: KL Rahul (captain/wicket-keeper), Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Deepak Hooda, Nicholas Pooran, Shahrukh Khan, Jhye Richardson,  Riley Meredith, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh, Ravi Bishnoi

Chennai predicted XI: Faf du Plessis, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Moeen Ali, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (captain/wicket-keeper), Sam Curran, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur

Punjab vs Chennai head-to-head in Indian T20 League

Three-time Indian T20 League champions Chennai have a clear edge over Punjab in the head-to-head record. The two teams have faced each other 23 times in the high-profile league, with Chennai winning 14 while losing nine.

However, Chennai have won 46.67 per cent of their games at the Wankhede Stadium, winning seven of the 15 games. On the other hand, Punjab have won 50 per cent of the matches at this venue, registering six wins in 12 encounters.

Punjab vs Chennai match prediction: Who will win?

Chennai hold a superior head-to-head record against Punjab, winning four of their last five matches against Punjab in the Indian T20 League.

Furthermore, captain MS Dhoni has a tremendous Indian T20 League record against Punjab.

Chennai are favourites to win the match against Punjab at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday.

Best performers in Punjab vs Chennai: Predictions

Top tip: Best batsmen

Punjab captain KL Rahul will look to continue his good form against Chennai at the Wankhede. Rahul scored 91 runs off just 50 balls in their last game against Rajasthan to help his side post a mammoth total of 221 on the board. The 28-year-old also holds a decent record against Chennai, amassing 292 runs in eight innings at an average of 36.5, with three fifties. Considering his recent form, it’s a no-brainer that one should bet on KL Rahul as the top batsman in this fixture.

In the case of Chennai, captain MS Dhoni is the ideal candidate to be the leading run-scorer in the latest Punjab vs Chennai showdown. The 39-year-old has amassed 595 runs in 21 innings against Punjab, at a staggering average of 59.5 with five fifties to his name.

Top tip: Best bowlers

Mohammed Shami is tipped to be the wrecker-in-chief for Punjab against Chennai. Shami was one of the stand-out performers for Punjab in the last edition of the Indian T20 League, bagging 20 wickets in 14 matches at an average of 23. He has also picked up three wickets against Chennai in seven innings.

West Indies medium-pacer Dwayne Bravo has been Chennai's best bet with the ball against Punjab so far, scalping 22 wickets in 16 innings at an economy of 7.74. Bravo is once again expected to use all his experience at the Wankhede when he bowls to the vaunted Punjab batting line-up.

Top tip: All-rounders and wicket-keepers

Chennai possesses several top all-rounders in their line-up including the likes of Ravindra Jadeja, Sam Curran, Dwayne Bravo and Moeen Ali. However, India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja would be the preferred choice for the all-rounder spot due to his match-winning capabilities. Jadeja has a staggering record in the Indian T20 League, scoring 2,159 runs and claiming 114 wickets in 184 matches. 

On the other hand, Punjab lacks top-quality all-rounders in their ranks. The team will hope Jhye Richardson can score a few runs at the lower order as he has hit three fifties in first-class cricket.

For the wicket-keeper position, MS Dhoni will be the preferred choice over KL Rahul. Dhoni has taken 113 catches and completed 39 stumpings in the Indian T20 League history. He is the first wicket-keeper in the history of the T20 tournament to reach 150 dismissals.

Featured photo: IPL/BCCI