After registering two emphatic wins in a row, Sunrisers Hyderabad seem to have put their apparently derailed campaign back on track. Having lift themselves to the fourth spot in the points table (from sixth a week ago), Sunrisers will be heading to one of their tougher assignments this season - Chennai Super Kings at Chepauk.
Even though they won their last game against them, SRH has a win percentage of only 27.2, their lowest against any of the currently existing sides. In addition, they haven’t played at Chepauk since 2015 and have lost both their games there (played in 2013 and 2015). More importantly, Chennai will be having their talisman, MS Dhoni back with them, unlike the last encounter between the two sides and the men in yellow looked like a fish out of water.
Surprisingly, Chennai, a side not known for losing, have failed to cross the finishing line in their last two games. Albeit, they won’t be perturbed about it as a playoff spot still look a certainty for them.
Since the snoozefest in the tournament opener where only 141 runs were scored from nearly 35 overs, the Chennai track has remained the most low-scoring ground in this IPL. It is the only venue where the average scoring rate has been slower than 7 runs per over (6.22). Spinners in particular have made merry conceding at only 5.16 runs per over here, once again the lowest among all venues in this edition.
The slow bowlers have taken 8 wickets more than the pacers having bowled just 9 more deliveries
Spin is paramount
Spin has always been of utmost importance in Chepauk and Chennai have it in abundance. The availability of Jadeja, Santner, Harbhajan, Imran Tahir, Karn Sharma - a traditional spinner of each kind has been a great asset in CSK’s success this tournament and MS Dhoni has shuffled them to his advantage like a pack of cards.
But the opposition relies heavily on their Afghanistan recruit, Rashid Khan who has been leading the slow bowling department pretty much single-handedly since his arrival to the franchise. What Sunrisers must be worried about is the lack of his wicket-taking form.
Rashid has been more economical than ever but has lost his skill to take wickets at consistent intervals like he used to earlier. This can be attributed to the batsmen’s watchful approach against him who are happy to nudge him around for ones and twos rather than taking risks against him.
Rashid’s twin strikes at key moments played a key role in Hyderabad dishing out Chennai last week and the Orange Army would want their key spinner to revamp his wicket-taking ability to stay on the winning track. To lend support to Rashid, the visitors can also add Mohammad Nabi or Shakib Al Hasan to their XI.
Sunrisers ahead on the batting front
Chennai have more bowling resources for their home track but Sunrisers are much ahead when it comes to the batting department.
In the first two phases of the innings, Sunrisers easily eclipse their opposition by virtue of their rollicking openers - David Warner and Jonny Bairstow. Both of them together have accounted for 71.3% of Sunrisers’ runs this season and have left an imprint on the middle phase of the innings as well with their prolific batting.
In the opposition camp, the top order is exactly where CSK have been faltering continuously this year. They have lost 20 wickets during the powerplay - the most by a side this season.
The poor show by their top order in Bangalore where they lost 4 wickets during the powerplay exemplifies their troubles at the top, triggered by Watson’s paltry season with the bat. The pressure has eventually come time and again on the middle order - MS Dhoni - who has scored nearly one-fourth of Chennai’s total runs this season.
Dhoni v Rashid:
The game can come down to contest between the biggest game-changers from both sides - Rashid Khan and MS Dhoni during the middle overs. It was a much awaited contest but the fans were left wanting for more when Dhoni opted to sit out in Hyderabad which is unlikely to happen again. Leg-spinners have been the arch-nemesis of MS Dhoni and the Chennai skipper has always been cautious while facing the young Afghan sensation.
Probable Playing XIs:
Chennai Super Kings:
It is near-impossible to find what goes on in MS Dhoni’s mind but going by the trend, Harbhajan Singh might be back in the side to counter David Warner, who strikes at only 114 against the offie. Sam Billings instead of Shane Watson could be another option they can ponder.
Probable XI: Shane Watson/Sam Billings, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Deepak Chahar, Imran tahir
Kane Williamson will not be available for the game as he has returned back home to attend the funeral of his grandmother. Bhuvneshwar Kumar will take over the captaincy once again and it gives Sunrisers a chance to play an extra spinner in Shakib Al Hasan or Mohammad Nabi. Mohammad Nabi may get a nod ahead of Shakib given they already have a left-arm spinner in Shahbaz Nadeem.
Probable XI: David Warner, Jonny Bairstow, Vijay Shankar, Mohammad Nabi, Deepak Hooda, Yusuf Pathan, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Sandeep Sharma, Khaleel Ahmed, Shahbaz Nadeem