The head-to-head between the Chennai Super Kings and the Kings XI Punjab doesnt reveal much. MS Dhoni’s Chennai have won six matches to Punjabs four. No big deal. But just follow the results from the inception of the tournament,and suddenly,it is rather easy why one side is a two-time-champion-two-time-finalist unit and why the other boasts of a semifinal appearance in 2008 as their best ever season.
For the first two IPLs,Punjab did not beat Chennai. Zip-five an upsetting double-break in terms of a tennis set. Three losses in 2008,two losses in 2009. In the third season,Punjab put their first win over Dhonis side. But it did not come easy. It came in the Super Over,when Punjab managed to outscore Chennais nine runs in the 42nd over of the day. It mattered little in that season,for the team in yellow won their maiden title while the Chandigarh side went out in the group stages again.
A rare double
Fortunes,however,changed last season. Although it was Chennai who reached the fourth IPL final in five seasons,Punjab managed to do the double on Dhonis side,home and away. And it is with this reputation of being the giant killers that underdogs Punjab take on the best in the business,Chennai,on Wednesday.
It may be early days in this new season,with both Chennai and Punjab having played just a solitary game each,but the scoreline does paint a rather contrasting picture. Fourth placed Punjab,with momentum on their side,will look to make the most of their home advantage at the PCA Stadium to keep CSK in the bottom two a bit while longer.
Their respective first matches too were rather contrasting in nature. While it was Punjabs pacemen in Azhar Mahmood,Praveen Kumar,Ryan Harris and Parvinder Awana who pulled their weight in restricting the Pune Warriors to just 99 runs,Chennais bowlers were the culprits in Dhonis loss,allowing Mumbais batters to score a little too freely at the end.
On the batting front,both sides have shown early positives with Dhoni himself striking a fifty in his first outing and Punjabs youth in Mandeep Singh and Manan Vohra proving that domestic talent does count for something. But in skipper Gilchrist is to be believed,then Punjab can very well be the next Chennai. With Shaun Marsh joining a team full of young domestic talent in the middle of the tournament,KXIP will be the most balanced side of the season, he said. I think we have the best group of Indian domestic talent.