The Chennai Super Kings will take on the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League 2020 on October 2 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, where two games have already been decided through a Super Over in a fortnight. Given the form of the two teams which are equal on points, Friday could see a third one.
Battle of equals
History favours CSK who have dominated—nine wins out of 12—their southern rival but the current performances point to a battle of the equals. CSK chased down 162 against the Mumbai Indians in the first game while SRH managed to defend the same total against the Delhi Capitals. The two matches were played in Abu Dhabi.
Though both teams have won only one game each of their three matches, the “mythical momentum” element is with SRH who started with two losses but won their last game.
“That win showed our character. I believe that the team which has self-belief, plans and executes them perfectly will be the best and consistent team in the IPL,” SRH mentor VVS Laxman said in a virtual media interaction on October 1.
CSK started with a bang but lost two matches in a row in lopsided contests. Besides, they are coming from a six-day break. “It came at a good time because the first three games were in quick succession and all games were at different grounds, so you have to appreciate trying to read conditions, for each game being predominantly the first team to play there was tough,” head coach Stephen Fleming told CSK’s website. “We’ve used this break pretty well, we got some clarity around what we need to do and have practised very well.”
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Trump cards vs veterans
While SRH’s trump cards Rashid Khan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar came good against Delhi in the last match after an ordinary start, CSK’s veterans—Shane Watson and Dhoni—have been quiet with the bat so far. Watson has managed just 51 runs in three matches but his duel with Khan will give him confidence ahead of the game. The burly Australian has a strike rate of nearly 143 against the Afghan leg-spinner who has not dismissed him even once in 10 matches. Watson seems to enjoy batting against SRH (523 runs in the past). No one has scored more runs scored more than him against David Warner’s side.
Like Watson, Dhoni, too, has prevailed over the other ace in the SRH pack. Dhoni has a strike rate of 177.6 against Bhuvneshwar in nine T20 innings and has never been dismissed by him either. Dhoni also enjoys batting against SRH (458 runs at an average of 65.43).
SRH’s new weapon
Pacer T Natarajan has impressed everyone with his accuracy in delivering yorkers at will—15 in three games. “Natarajan has fantastic work ethics and the way he executed those yorkers was brilliant. He has the confidence now,” Laxman said.
The Jadeja question
While CSK will be bolstered by the inclusion of match-winner Ambati Rayudu who is now fit to play, they are unlikely to include Dwayne Bravo in the Playing XI though the Trinidadian is available for selection. CSK may even play Imran Tahir, who bagged the highest wickets in IPL 2019, for the first time this season. Dhoni, however, must be worried about his trusted lieutenant Ravindra Jadeja’s form in the last three matches (2/42, 0/40, 0/44).
CSK: MS Dhoni, Shane Watson, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, Sam Curran, Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Piyush Chawla and Imran Tahir
SRH: David Warner, Jonny Bairstow, Manish Pandey, Kane Williamson, Vijay Shankar, Abdul Samad, Abhishek Sharma, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, T Natarajan and Khaleel Ahmed(Vimal Kumar is a senior sports journalist who has covered multiple cricket world cups and Rio Olympics in the last two decades. Vimal is also the author of Sachin: Cricketer Of The Century and The Cricket Fanatic’s Essential Guide.)