The historic Barabati Stadium will provide a beautiful backdrop to the most sought after league encounter of IPL-7 between table topper Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab here on Wednesday.

Kings XI caused a sensation after winning all its five league matches in the UAE leg, but was made to eat humble pie by Mumbai Indians in the first match of the Indian leg. Two-time champion CSK, having lost the first match of the season to KXIP at Abu Dhabi in a high-scoring game, gained from strength to strength thereafter to post six victories on the trot to emerge the new favourite. Since arriving in India, CSK has won two games with consummate ease.

Like the first encounter between the two, the return game too is likely to be a high-scoring affair with the ground staff preparing a hard, grassless pitch. Having played on the practice pitch, Kings XI captain George Bailey was pleased with the condition of the ground. 

Batting strength

Wednesday’s battle will again highlight the batting strength of both sides. Kings XI, who rode on the talented Glenn Maxwell, David Miller, Virender Sehwag and the captain himself in earlier matches, will be looking for another strong display to outshine the powerful batting line-up of CSK, whose openers Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith have been outstanding.

The intelligent play of Suresh Raina, the powerful strokeplay of Faf du Plessis and the rampaging style of M.S. Dhoni will combine to steal the show from the Punjab team. The plus point for the host is that its wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha is in fine nick.

The two teams, more or less, match each other on the bowling front, but CSK’s better spin options will give them an edge. Bailey admitted that he too has a spin option, but would prefer to finalise the team before the toss.  

Dhoni will not like to disturb the winning combination, while Bailey is likely to make a change or two depending on the condition of the pitch. When the two teams met last time, it was CSK’s fielding that let the team down, reprieving Maxwell who proved to be the match-winner.

Wednesday will be another day. It remains to be seen whether CSK will be able to extract sweet revenge or KXIP continue to dominate the yellow shirts.