Ed Hawkins says CSK could be a bet in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday but they need to pick the South Africa spinner first.
"Rayudu is a class act for Chennai at No 3 and he could be set for a return to runs after topping in his team’s opener"
Kolkata Knight Riders v Chennai Super Kings
Wednesday October 7, 15:00
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
KKR need rhythm
Kolkata have been up and down this tournament with two wins from four. Last time out they suffered a beating in the field by the bat of Delhi Capitals. The Capitals amassed 228 as KKR's old problem of profligacy with the ball returned.
Previously they had looked tight and well-organised against Rajasthan and Sunrisers so they will hope that the leaking was purely down to the short boundaries at Sharjah.
The form of Sunil Narine, or lack of it, is the big issue. Narine balances KKR and he is not performing with bat or ball. Charged with fast starts, Narine has a strike rate of just 87. He also has only two wickets and an economy rate pushing close to nine. They may have a decision to make soon.
Possible XI Gill, Narine, Rana, Karthik, Russell, Morgan, Tripathi, Cummins, Kuldeep, Mavi, Nagarkoti.
Super Kings have been the biggest disappointment so far in the IPL and even a ten-wicket beating of Kings XI doesn't change that in their last outing.
Hitherto they had been ponderous in the chase, brainless in the field and slow-witted in selection. For the umpteenth time, where is Imran Tahir? Tahir is probably the best spinner in the world in this format at the moment and comes off the back of an excellent CPL in similar conditions. He also has six wickets in his last two games versus KKR.
At least Shane Watson finally found form. He needs to continue otherwise there is pressure on a Super Kings middle order which bats Kedar Jadav at No 4. It's at least a place too high.
Probable XI Watson, Du Plessis, Rayudu, Jadav, Curran, Dhoni, Bravo, Jadeja, Chawla, Chahar, Thakur
Last year head-to-heads
CSK 162-5 (Narine 2-19) chased KKR 161-8 (Tahir 4-27)
CSK 111-3 (Du Plessis 43*, Narine 2-23) chased KR 108-9 (Russell 50*, Chahar 3-20)
Overall CSK 14 KKR 8
Before Tuesday's match there had been six games at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The first-innings scores (1-2 denote match won by team batting first or second) read: 154-2/191-1/162-1/142-2/195-1/162-2. The target for the side batting first could well be 8.5 an over with surfaces beginning to take wear and tear. We probably have to wait another three or four matches before we see a significant downturn in runs.
Chennai will defend
It's early days on the match odds market but KKR are slight outsiders at 1/12.02 with Chennai 10/111.92. If the market matures and holds that course there are likely to be several takers of KKR at 11/102.10 or better.
The rationale for CSK favouritism does make sense, though. If they bat first and post 160-170 they will expect to take down KKR with spin. Taking the pace off - Sam Curran Dwayne Bravo can also do this with sleight of hand - could derail big hitters like Andre Russell and Eoin Morgan. Indeed, CSK have won all five of the head-to-heads when batting first.
Still, it is difficult to get involved at this stage without confirmation that Tahir is a pick. If he plays, we would expect Chennai to go very close.
Ambati Rayudu is a class act for Chennai at No 3 and he could be set for a return to runs after topping in his team's opener. The 4/1 gives us a healthy chunk in our favour on two-year win rate. We also note the 17/1 available about Sam Curran. Curran could bat as high as No 4 if CSK need a left-hander to break up Chennai's spin threat.
Russell has almost slipped out of value range after a disappointing start with no KKR top-bat wins. He has struggled to time the ball so that coupled with a 1.1% edge at 9/2 with Sportsbook makes it hard to get excited.
Ed Hawkins IPL P-L
+8.2 (16pts staked)