Mohali holds edge over Chennai in 'battle of Kings'

Published: Saturday, May 31, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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Mumbai: King's XI Punjab hold a definite edge over their opponents from the South the Chennai Super Kings, as they clash in the second DLF Indian Premier League semifinal at the Wankhede stadium here on Saturday.

The match seen as the clash between the Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Chennai Super Kings) and his deputy Yuvraj Singh (King's XI, Punjab) has the latter sitting in a more comfortable position with his batting line-up firing on all cylinders.

Shaun Marsh, who is in awesome touch, has been a real revelation for the fans of the game with his superb batting style, classical cricketing shots being its cornerstone.

The left-handed opener from Western Australia appears as a major stumbling block in front of the Chennai side, as he emerged as the highest run-getter (593 runs from 10 games) in the competition despite not playing in the initial part of the 59-day event.

The victors of this tie would take on the winners of tonight's first semi-final between table toppers Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils in the June 1 summit clash of the 44-day Twenty20 event, which has been a huge hit in the country.

The strength of Punjab lies in the fantastic array of batsmen they have apart from Marsh, who has been opening the innings of late with Australian all rounder James Hopes.

In Sri Lankans, with Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene the team possesses two of the finest talents in the world.

Then there is Yuvraj, who has surprisingly underperformed in a format which he dominated thoroughly in the inaugural World Cup last September in South Africa, which India won, and the dangerous Luke Pomersbach to add meat to the middle order. The very strong Punjab batting is backed up by an efficient bowling manned by S Sreesanth, Irfan Pathan, V R V Singh and Piyush Chawla, giving the team a truly formidable look.

Chennai Super Kings, who finished third in the points table behind Rajasthan and Punjab do have the wherewithal to compete against their rivals, but man for man they fall a bit short.

They certainly will feel the absence of former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming at the top of the order. In his absence Parthiv Patel is expected to open the innings with S Vidyut or Anirudha Srikkanth.

It's in the top of the order where Chennai look weak as compared to Punjab, while the middle order has Suresh Raina, Subramaniam Badrinath, Dhoni and exciting South African all rounder Albie Morkel -- a good line-up but clearly weaker than their rivals'.

Makhaya Ntini seems to have rediscovered some of his rhythm but Dhoni would be wary of his proclivity to go back to bowling loose balls.

Morkel, Manpreet Gony, the fit-again Laxmipathy Balaji and spin ace Muttiah Muralitharan give the Chennai attack a healthy look and would need to be at their best to put shackles on the strong Punjab batting order.


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