Chennai and Punjab in battle of the Kings

IPL champs Kolkata up against Aus side Hurricanes

A keen battle is on the cards when IPL teams Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings clash in the semifinals of the Oppo Champions League T20 at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket stadium here on Thursday. 

Punjab go into the match unbeaten in four games they have played so far while Super Kings had to depend on other teams’ showing to make the last-four stage. The power-packed batting unit led by skipper George Bailey, Virender Sehwag, David Miller, Manan Vohra, Wriddhiman Saha and all-rounder Thisara Perera make Kings a lethal force.

The team is equally formidable in bowling in the presence of Parvinder Awana, Perera, Karanveer Singh and Akshar Patel. The Chennai side too is equally competitive with M S Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Dwayne Bravo and Brendon McCullum serving the side.

Bowlers like Ashish Nehra, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Mohit Sharma and Bravo can trouble most teams on a given day. With both the IPL teams locking horns, the semi-final promises to be an exciting event for the fans.Chennai, who do have history of winning the competition, do rely heavily on their batting and it will be up to the Punjab bowlers to stop their top-heavy batting line-up from getting off to a quickfire start.

Hurricanes test for KKR

The formidable Kolkata Knight Riders will start favourites when they square off against Australia’s Hobart Hurricanes in the other semifinal.  Kolkata Knight Riders are on a roll having remained unbeaten in the CLT20 and registering 13 wins in a row since the IPL T20 tournament this year. The batting department of KKR, comprising captain Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Suryakumar Yadav, Jacques Kallis, Ryan ten Doeschate and Andre Russel have been in great form. In the bowling department, however, there has been some turmoil after ‘mystery spinner’ Sunil Narine was reported for suspect action in their last group match. However, the young Kuldeep Yadav, all-rounders such as Yusuf Pathan, Doeschate and Russel have been quite successful.

KKR’s star batsman Uthappa has said his team would like to focus on its strengths in the semi-finals against Hobert Hurricanes. The Kolkata side has played all its matches in the Group stage in Hyderabad and it is expected to have the advantage of familiarity. Hurricanes, on the other hand, have set an impressive record in the tournament having won three of the four matches it played.

The only match the Hurricanes lost was against the formidable Kings XI Punjab, though all the other three wins were against foreign teams — Cape Cobras, Northern Districts and Barbados Tridents — none of whom were familiar with the Indian conditions.

Nevertheless, the Hurricanes have been in good form coming up with brilliant individual as well collective performances. Hurricanes’ batsmen including Ben Dunk, Aiden Blizzard, captain Tim Paine and Pakistan’s Shoaib Malik have shone bright.

The bowling department comprising Ben Hilfenhaus, Doug Bollinger, Xavier Doherty, Joe Mennie and Ben Laughlin has been equally impressive. 

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