Kochi aim to spring a surprise

After their win against Mumbai, Jayawardenes boys face holders Super Kings

Kochi upstaged Mumbai by a comprehensive eight wickets to clinch their maiden IPL win after facing defeats in their opening two matches.

Captain Mahela Jayawardene said the win should now ensure that rivals take his team more seriously. The destructive Brendon McCullum came into his own against Mumbai and with crucial support from Jayawardene and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, Kochi managed to pip Mumbai despite a solid century by their captain Sachin Tendulkar.

“We have to keep fighting till the end. The rival teams will take us a little more seriously now following this victory. It gives us confidence as well,” Jayawardene had said after the shock win. When asked if Muttiah Muralitharan or local boy S Sreesanth would be playing on Monday, Jayawardene said, “It was Murali’s birthday today and a cake was cut for him. We have so many options in the squad. There are lot of quality players in the squad. Depending on the opposition and the wickets, a final call will be taken either tonight or tomorrow on who will be playing tomorrow,” he said.

The Sri Lankan veteran would hope for a similar performance from his team against Chennai at the Nehru stadium. The bowling, however, is a big concern for Kochi as pace spearhead S Sreesanth and spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan have both been off colour, prompting Jayawardene to drop the duo in the match against Mumbai.

RP Singh also continues to struggle to not just take wickets but also stem the flow of runs in the fourth edition of the league. R Vinay Kumar and Sri Lankan medium pacer Thisara Perera can also be expected to be put through a tough test by a formidable Chennai batting, bolstered by the return of Michael Hussey.

Besides the prolific left-hander from Australia, Chennai, with the likes of skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Suresh Raina, veteran New Zealander Scott Styris and South Africa’s Albie Morkel, have the fire power to bat any opposition out of the game.

Chairman of selectors Krisnamachari Srikkanth’s son S Aniruddha has also been an exciting find for the team in this edition of the league.

Chennai have had a fairly successful campaign winning two of their three matches so far -- the only defeat being a result of the sensational Paul Valthaty’s brilliance with the bat.

Their bowlers too have been putting up decent performances with Morkel, Tim Southee, Ravichandran Ashwin and Suraj Randiv sharing enough wickets among themselves.

Going into Monday’s match, Chennai certainly have the momentum but Kochi too have a spring in their step after the win over Mumbai. And given the unpredictability of the Twenty20 format, it doesn’t take much time for a change in momentum.

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