Date: October 7, 2021
Time: 3:30 PM (IST)
Venue: Dubai International Stadium
Live Ball-by-Ball Commentary: SportsTiger App
The Indian T20 League is gradually moving towards its climactic end. While three of the four teams in the Playoffs have been decided - they being Chennai, Delhi and Bangalore - there is still one remaining spot and Kolkata, Punjab, Mumbai and Rajasthan are in with a chance. Even for the teams assured of a top-four finish, there is an added incentive to go for the top-two finish which keeps things interesting.
In this context, the match between Chennai and Punjab becomes a crucial one. Not only will Chennai want to get to 20 points and be assured of a playoff berth, thanks to their superior net run rate, but they have also now lost two matches in a row and would want to head into the Playoffs with winning momentum. On the other hand, Punjab's only outside chance at qualification is a dominant win in which they beat Chennai with a huge margin or finish the run chase within a few overs since that would only boost their net run rate. Even then, they would have to hope for other results to go their way.
For practical reasons, Punjab's qualification looks tough but nevertheless a win to end the season would be on their minds when KL Rahul walks out for the toss at the Dubai International Stadium this Thursday.
Position in the Indian T20 League standings:
Chennai: Current Position: 2nd (18 points in 13 matches)
Punjab: Current Position: 6th (10 points in 13 matches)
Chennai: The big news for the Men in Yellow is that Sam Curran has been ruled out for the remainder of the tournament. Moreover, he is also out of England's T20 World Cup squad but that would mean that Dwayne Bravo would have to play all the remaining Chennai games and keep himself fit. The West Indian almost pulled off a victory for the MS Dhoni-led side and will be responsible for bowling those crucial death overs.
Punjab: Despite all the potential in Nicholas Pooran, he hasn't delivered as per the expectation and it remains to be seen whether he is given an opportunity in the last match. Chris Gayle is already out of the bubble and they might give Moises Henriques another game in the tournament. No known injury concerns from their camp this year.
Head to Head (in Indian T20 League)
Matches Played – 24
Chennai – 15
Punjab – 9
Players to watch out for:
Shardul Thakur has got a bit of a golden arm this season. Whenever he has got an opportunity to bowl, Thakur has been able to break partnerships, sometimes totally against the run of play. It is not without a reason that he is Chennai's leading wicket-taker this year with 15 wickets from 13 matches. A few more good matches in store for Thakur could mean another trophy in the cabinet for Chennai. However, before that, they would be banking on him for a win over Punjab in their last match. Thakur has averaged 28.33 and has conceded runs at an economy of 8.52.
What remarkable consistency captain KL Rahul has shown for Punjab Kings. He has yet again scored over 500 runs at an average of over 50 and a strike rate of 129.09. However, apart from Rahul and Mayank Agarwal, there haven't been any consistent run-getters in the middle order which has perhaps been the reason behind their seventh position in the tally for now. He would be the key yet again - not only as a batter at the top of the order but as a wicketkeeper and a captain too.
Probable Playing XI:
Chennai: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Robin Uthappa, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Josh Hazlewood
Punjab: KL Rahul (c & wk), Mayank Agarwal, Aiden Markram, Nicholas Pooran, Sarfaraz Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Moises Henriques, Harpreet Brar, Mohammed Shami, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh