Chennai clear favourites against Punjab

Down in the dumps Kings XI Punjab will have to play out of their skin if they have to upset a rampaging Chennai Super Kings on Sunday.

updated: March 20, 2010 13:27 IST
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Down in the dumps Kings XI Punjab will have to play out of their skin if they have to upset a rampaging Chennai Super Kings in their own backyard and open their account in the Indian Premier League here on Sunday.

The first week could not have been worse for the Kings XI, who lost all their three matches in a row, with batsmen and bowlers failing to perform as a unit and largely relying on individual efforts.

In all the three matches, Punjab worked themselves into a positions from where they could have won but falter at the last hurdle and if Kumar Sangakkara's men have to win tomorrow they will have to get over this last minute jittery and play as a unit.

For a team that had won five of their first seven matches in the first edition in 2008, this year's performance has come as a shocker. However, the tournament is still in its initial stages and skipper Sangakkara will have to ensure that are no hiccups from here on.

In the batting department, except Ravi Bopara, others have lacked consistency and big guns like Yuvraj Singh, Mahela Jayawardene and Sangakkara have failed to get going.

A highest score of 26 between the trio sums up the situation for Punjab and unless the senior pros fire, the mood in the dug-out will not improve.

Their bowling have been equally lacklustre as none have troubled the opponent batsmen, even though S Sreesanth have shown some sparks.

However, Sangakara hoped his team would raise their game in time and come out in flying colours on Sunday.

"Morale is there in our team members and we will come out and perform. We need to perform to our potential. I do know the character of the Chepauk turf and it is a question of our adapting to the demands of 20-20 game," Sangakara said.

The hosts Chennai, on the other, looks well-settled and formidable and could easily be considered as clear favourites on their home turf to rout the challenge of Punjab.

Matthew Hayden's 'mongoose' bat was the highlight of their last game against Delhi Daredevils and Chennai's young captain Suresh Raina would be hoping the burly Australian will continue with his lightening form on Sunday.

Hayden will have to shoulder the responsibility of the batting and also assist Raina in the absence of regular skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who is nursing an elbow injury and is out of the tournament for 10 days.

Hayden had torn apart the challenge of Delhi bowlers at their home ground with a breathtaking 43-ball 93 to power his team to a five-wicket win.

Raina was also in good nick with the bat and if the other batsmen like Badrinath, Parthiv Patel and Justin Kemp comes out firing all cylinders on Sudnay, it will be testing period for the Punjab bowlers - Irfan Pathan, Sreesanth, Shalabh Srivatsava and Piyush Chawla.