CSK look to maintain momentum

Former champions come up against determined Lions

CSK look to maintain momentum

 After reaching the group stages at the expense of defending Champions League T20 champions, Mumbai Indians, the task has seemed to get harder for Pakistani outfit Lahore Lions.

Their immediate reward for qualifying into the main rounds of the tournament was a meeting with current IPL champions, Kolkata Knight Riders – a match which they lost in the last over.

Their baptism by fire continues here on Thursday at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium as their next opponents in Group A are Chennai Super Kings, the big daddy of T20 cricket. CSK’s honours list would easily run for a couple of pages, such has been their mastery of the format. But they are notoriously slow starters.

While the Indian Premier League offers teams a chance to regain lost ground, the CLT20 has a more unforgiving environment where two consecutive losses might seal a team’s fate. 

And Chennai, who have lost and won one so far in the tournament, will hope to get the job done to avoid getting trapped in a plethora of permutations and combinations at the business end of the league stage.

After a loss against KKR in their opening match, the Chennai batsmen – who have so often bailed them out of sticky situations – once again fired to set them on their way against the Dolphins on Monday. But the Lions bowlers - who have not conceded more than 170 runs in the four matches they have played thus far - may not be as easy to put away as the Dolphins. 

In Aizaz Cheema, one of the standout bowlers in this edition so far with 10 wickets to his name, they have a pacer of genuine ability. He is well supported by fellow pacer Wahab Riaz, spinner Adnan Rasool, who is in the mix despite being reported for a suspect action in the last match against KKR, and skipper Mohammad Hafeez. 

In contrast, CSK's bowling - dodgy at the best of times - do have a problem in the death overs. And that Achilles Heel returned to haunt them against KKR in the first match when Andre Russell smashed his way to a blistering half-century to take them home with six balls remaining. 

The match could well be decided between CSK's batsmen, who went through the gears like a SUV on a highway in their last match against the Dolphins, and the Lions bowlers. However, all that might be reduced to a mere footnote if the weather, which has been up and down in the last few days, decides to play spoilsport. And the morrow’s forecast - prediction of a 90 per cent chance of heavy thunderstorms - isn't good. 

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