Lions up against Super Kings run-machine

After their opening loss to Kolkata Knight Riders, Chennai Super Kings ensured Dolphins would not be in a position to do an Andre Russell on them. They blasted their way to 242 for 6, equaling the highest total in the Champions League T20, as Suresh Raina led with a 43-ball 90. Dolphins tried hard, but even a reply of 188 meant a crushing margin of victory for Super Kings.

In previous seasons, the side’s approach was to build steadily and accelerate, but the opening pair of Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum has given them enhanced freedom to attack from the first ball. Super Kings lost Smith early against Dolphins but that did not stop them from reaching 100 by the ninth over. The Super Kings line-up is packed with hitters, which means an onslaught can get difficult to contain for the opposition if multiple batsmen fire.

That is something Lahore Lions will also have to watch out for. Lions did not start badly at all in their first group match against Kolkata Knight Riders as Ahmed Shehzad dominated an opening stand of 50. They were faced with Sunil Narine and the debutant chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav after that, and collapsed to 103 for 6 before Umar Akmal revived them to 151 for 7. They followed that with atrocious fielding and catching to suffer a four-wicket loss.

Knight Riders themselves went from 100 for 0 to 147 for 6 to make the chase interesting. Unlike them, Super Kings are not prone to such collapses, and Lions will have to put in a sharply improved performance in all departments if they are to challenge MS Dhoni’s men.

Form guide

Chennai Super Kings WLLWW (most recent first, completed matches only)
Lahore Lions LWLWW

Watch out for

Mohammad Hafeez struggled to 9 off 15 against Knight Riders. He wasn’t able to pick Kuldeep and was intent on using the slog-sweep, which he tried unsuccessfully several times and eventually top-edged one in the deep. Hafeez had struggled against Southern Express in the qualifiers as well, but had recovered from 15 off 24 to take 52 off his final 16 deliveries. Hafeez has the ability to suddenly convert a crawl into an explosive finish. He needs to find the second gear soon.

He performs acrobatics in the deep, he fields like a man possessed in the covers, he thumps sixes at the top of the order, and he is also the only man from his country to have made a Test triple hundred. He does all this with a back that has given him trouble for years now. Brendon McCullum is a special cricketer, and one half of one of the most destructive T20 opening combinations. Lions, who conceded 100 against openers Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir, will need to strike early against Super Kings.

Stats and trivia

  • Suresh Raina needs one more six to become the first Indian and tenth batsman to hit 200 T20 sixes
  • Dwayne Bravo is the only Super Kings bowler to go for under six an over so far in the tournament
  • Ahmed Shehzad has scored the most runs for Lahore Lions – 1380 from 44 games with one hundred and nine fifties

Quotes

“One of the areas we need to improve is fielding. We have to do well as a fielding unit. We have to really raise the standard of our fielding”
Mohammad Hafeez couldn’t be clearer about what he wants Lahore Lions to do

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