Sunday’s double-header begins with a race to the top of the table. The winner of this contest between Chennai Super Kings and the Sunrisers Hyderabad will jump straight to the top after five games.
The Kings come into this match on a high note after they thrashed Rajasthan in the last match. Contrastingly, Hyderabad suffered their first loss of the season against Punjab after winning their first three. The same team has incidentally also caused the only loss for Chennai this season. Can CSK take first place and continue their good run, or will SRH bounce back to retain the top spot?
Chennai Super Kings
MS Dhoni (c), Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Faf du Plessis, Harbhajan Singh, Dwayne Bravo, Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Deepak Chahar, KM Asif, Kanishk Seth, Lungi Ngidi, Dhruv Shorey, Murali Vijay, Sam Billings, Mark Wood, Kshitiz Sharma, Monu Kumar, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Imran Tahir, Karn Sharma, Shardul Thakur, N Jagadeesan, David Willey.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shikhar Dhawan, Shakib Al Hasan, Kane Williamson (c), Manish Pandey, Carlos Brathwaite, Yusuf Pathan, Wriddhiman Saha, Rashid Khan, Ricky Bhui, Deepak Hooda, Siddarth Kaul, T Natarajan, Mohammad Nabi, Basil Thampi, K Khaleel Ahmed, Sandeep Sharma, Sachin Baby, Chris Jordan, Billy Stanlake, Tanmay Agarwal, Shreevats Goswami, Bipul Sharma, Mehdi Hasan, Alex Hales.
Where the teams stand
Chennai Super Kings
Shane Watson’s brilliant century against Rajasthan once again overshadowed CSKs reliance on individuals for their scores. Watson has joined Bravo, Billings, and Dhoni on the list. At this rate, it must be either Rayudu or Raina to take them home in the next match. The performances of these players always comes in tandem with another 40 odd from one of the players. It was Raina in the last match, and Rayudu in the one before. This system has worked for them so far, and if the batsmen can keep stepping up like this, CSK will continue to be a hard team to beat.
Chennai’s attack was right on the mark against Rajasthan after a few expensive games. Chahar showed more glimpses of brilliance after his performance against Mumbai, while Thakur and Watson were brilliant too. The centurion bowled a brilliant spell, conceding only 13 in 3. He picked up a wicket too. Tahir had an off-day, and the move to include Karn Sharma backfired too. CSK were quite slippery in the field against the Royals, and Sharma was the culprit on more than one occasion. The Super Kings’ recipe for success has been a perplexing, but very successful one so far. One never knows who will make the difference with this team, and that makes them very dangerous.
Fantasy Picks: Quite a few players from Chennai have looked in good touch over the last few games. Watson and Dhoni are obvious names, but Raina and Rayudu have been in good touch as well. Billings and Bravo had their moments, but are risky picks. The former has not performed since his innings against KKR, and Bravo can be leaky with the ball. Jadeja and Karn Sharma cannot be recommended. Chahar and Thakur are also gambles, but the former is a worthier one.
Hyderabad were decimated by the Universe Boss in their last game as he scored a brilliant century to post a target beyond SRHs reach. Dhawan retired hurt after the first ball, and his fitness is a subject of grave concern for the team. Laxman has been hopeful of his recovery, but there is a realistic chance he will miss the clash since he missed practice. His absence would force some tinkering with the lineup since a foreign batsman would have to be called in to cover for him. SRH have Hales and Brathwaite to choose between. The former’s destructiveness makes him the more suitable pick. Brathwaite’s pinch-hitting is not needed with Pathan and Hooda down the order playing the same role. Chris Jordan will have to be the one to make way for him despite a laudable showing against Punjab. Moving on, Pandey’s 57, albeit from 42 balls, is an encouraging sign after his struggles in the first few games. Shakib needs to bat higher in the order, ideally at five with Pathan at 6 and Pandey at 4 following Williamson and Hales. The batting lineup is starting to look a little shaky without Dhawan, but so is CSKs.
Rashid Khan and Shakib bore the brunt of Chris Gayle’s ire, both conceding over 13 in their spells. The rest of the bowlers conceded at around 8 at the maximum. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was predictably the pick of them, with figures of 4-0-25-1. Jordan, Kaul, and Hooda all conceded at around 8. Khan has been one of the most economical bowlers this season barring the last match, and he will surely be a threat against CSK. Stanlake/Jordan’s absence if Dhawan stays unfit does weaken the bowling, but SRH have the best bowler in India, one of the best all-rounders going around, and Khan still left. This is a much more even contest with Dhawan’s uncertain fitness and a good chance for CSK to go to the top.
Fantasy Picks: Williamson has scored two fifties and a 30+ already, making him the most obvious pick. Pandey is also worth gambling on, while Shakib’s all-round abilities make him a sound pick as well. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is another name that needs no justification, while Rashid Khan is another reliable pick.
CSK’s unpredictably has been a boon to their cause, and SRH’s injury troubles only aid Chennai. Chennai win.
Who will go top of the table with a win this huge clash? Let us know in the comments and poll below.