CSK can kick on against an inconsistent KKR side and it can be that man Moeen Ali shining for the men in yellow with the ball, says Jamie Pacheco.
"All things considered, CSK look better equipped with better game plans and more in-form players. That they’ve won their last two first chasing then setting a score should also leave them well-equipped for whatever they need to do here and are a confident selection."
Kolkata Knight Riders v Chennai Super Kings
Wednesday April 21 15.00
TV: live on Sky Sports Cricket
KKR in trouble early on
Two defeats and a win aren't a great start for KKR, a side who always looked like it could be great one day and somewhat hopeless the next.
The 204 they conceded against RCB was always going to be a tough ask to chase but they should have gone about it differently.
Did they really believe that Dinesh Karthik was a better bet to chase down a huge score than Andre Russell? They should have batted the big Jamaican no lower than five and given him as many balls to face as possible at that stage.
Karthik, by the way, has been a in a rut for ages and is lucky to still get a game. You could say a similar thing about Eoin Morgan. His 29 off 23 was ok but that's now just 38 runs in three games and this after he had a baren Series against India last month. But Morgan's the skipper, of course, so has to play.
They'd look a better side with paceman Lockie Ferguson in it but who would they drop to get him in?
Likely XI: Gill, Rana, Tripathi, Morgan, Karthik, Al-Hasan, Russell, Cummins, Singh, Chakravarthy, Krishna.
CSK in decent shape
Chennai secured a good win over Rajasthan on Monday and it was a good win for two main reasons.
The first is that with the bat they showed a lot more intent than they have in the past. The result was that four players passed 20, all at a strike rate of at least 130. As it happens no-one got any more than Faf Du Plessis' 33 which is a bit of a concern because you generally need at least one player to kick on but the only thing that really matters is your team's score, not how you got there.
So their hell-for-leather approach worked with the bat as they posted a competitive-looking 188/9 (that 'for 9' proof of how hard they went) and they were good with the ball.
Especially good were spinners Moeen Ali and Ravi Jadeja, who returned figures of 3/7 and 2/28 respectively. If they can squeeze teams in the middle overs CSK can become a force to be reckoned with.
Dwayne Bravo had a good all-round game scoring 20 off 8, taking a wicket and a good catch. He should keep his place as Lungi Ngidi awaits his chance.
Likely XI: Gaikwad, du Plessis, Ali, Raina, Rayudu, Jadeja, Curran, Dhoni, Bravo, Thakur, Chahar.
CSK tick far more boxes
They used some tricky Mumbai tracks at the end of last week but since Sunday they've been playing on some good ones again. Punjab's 195 was easily chased by Delhi while CSK's own 188 was enough to down Rajasthan.
One thing that's been quite notable throughout is how much easier it's been to score at the beginning of the innings. As the ball gets older it gets trickier to generate power and few teams have ended innings better than they've started them.
So if either side goes off really quickly, it might be worth laying 200 runs in-play.
I was really impressed by CSK's approach on Monday where players value their strike rate more and their wicket less and that could be a big factor here. KKR are particularly ponderous at the start and that could hurt them because as we said already, it's at the start of the innings that it's easiest to score quickly.
In terms of head-to-head records, despite these being two of the IPL's best sides over the years, CSK are way ahead on the head-to-head record: 14-8. They've also won three of the last four.
All things considered, CSK look better equipped with better game plans and more in-form players. That they've won their last two first chasing then setting a score should also leave them well-equipped for whatever they need to do here and are a confident selection.
Rana a safe choice in KKR top batsman market
Nitish Rana has been KKR's Mr Consistent so far this campaign, which is why he's the fourth highest runscorer in the IPL at the moment. Scores of 57 and 80 have seen him top score in two of KKR's three matches to date. But then again, at odds of 11/4 the Sportsbook isn't giving much away.
Rahul Tripathi looks a decent price at 4/1 for a player batting at three but an average of 25 in the IPL and just six fifties in 48 matches suggests it's not that great a price after all.
A few years ago you would have bitten a bookies' arm off for a quote of 20/1 about Dinesh Karthik, but not anymore. He scored just the one fifty in 14 matches last season and hasn't got one in three games this year, so his big scores are a thing of the past.
Russell (11/2) won last time out from number seven but you're playing with fire by asking him to score so quickly every time given he seldom faces more than about 20 balls.
Ali can go well again with the ball
Moeen Ali walked away with the man-of-the-match award last time out thanks to a wonderful spell of off-spin bowling: 3/7 off three overs. Given he's scored some quick runs with the bat and you can see why CSK were so keen to bring him in.
He's joint top CSK bowler with Deepak Chahar for most wickets on four. Chahar by the way, took all those four in the same match.
The way CSK play at the moment, they only use a maximum of six bowlers: Chahar, Thakur, Bravo, Jadeja, Curran and Ali.
Given CSK have always liked to use plenty of spin, that it's been effective in Mumbai, that Ali is bowling well and is fresh from such a good performance and you can see why we like him at 4/1 for CSK top bowler.
JAMIE PACHECO'S 2021 IPL
Points Wagered: 6pts
Points Returned: 0
P ad L: -6