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It’s the battle of the Kings as Punjab take on Chennai in match eight of the 2021 Indian T20 League at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Punjab survived a Sanju Samson special and registered a thrilling 4-run win in their first match against Rajasthan, whereas Chennai were beaten convincingly by 7 wickets in their opening match by Delhi.

In the last five matches against Chennai, Punjab have won only once, a victory that came in 2019. They lost both their games last season, one by a margin of 10 wickets and the other by 9 wickets. As both the teams face off in their second match of the season, here are 3 player battles to look forward to in this game:

  • Faf du Plessis vs Mohammed Shami

Faf du Plessis is one of the mainstays of the Chennai batting unit. He has been consistent at the top of the order for the team in the past few years. He was dismissed without scoring in the last match against Delhi. He has scored more than 2300 runs in his league career and will be looking to get his team off to flying starts. 

Mohammed Shami is Punjab’s most experienced bowler by far. He can vary his pace and bowl all kinds of deliveries to unsettle the batsmen. He also possesses the ability to take big wickets and at key points in the match. Against Rajasthan, he sent back the dangerous Ben Stokes in the first over itself. He knows how important it will be to get rid of Du Plessis as early as possible for his team to have a good advantage. Balls Faced: 32; Runs Scored: 64, No. of Dismissals: 1

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  • KL Rahul vs Shardul Thakur

Punjab captain KL Rahul continued on from where he left off in the UAE last year. He dominated the Rajasthan attack during an amazing innings of 91 runs off just 50 balls, which included 7 fours and 5 sixes. He was involved in a remarkable partnership of 105 runs with Deepak Hooda, which took the team’s total over 200. After a wonderful start in the tournament, he will be the key player for the team in the upcoming games.

Shardul Thakur had an off-day in the last game against Delhi. He was torn apart by the Delhi openers, Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan. Although he took 2 of the 3 wickets to fall, he ended up conceding 53 in 3.4 overs. He will be looking for a better performance here considering how well he has bowled in the recent matches. Both players know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Thus, it could be a cat and mouse game. Balls Faced: 20; Runs Scored: 33, No. of Dismissals: 1

  • Chris Gayle vs Ravindra Jadeja

Chris Gayle set the platform up for Deepak Hooda and his spectacular knock against Rajasthan. He took his time and eased into the innings before starting to hit the balls out of the park. Although he scored 40 runs off 28 balls, the intent was visible in his stroke-making. Had he stayed on the crease for longer, who knows what the team would have ended up with. 

He will be up against a highly-experienced Ravindra Jadeja and his left-arm spin. Jadeja likes to fire the ball in and restrict the run scoring of the batsmen. He has taken 114 wickets at an economy rate of 7.67 in the league. Although he bowled only two overs in the previous match, it will be interesting to see Gayle taking on Jadeja in the middle overs and how the latter responds.

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