With the round-robin stage officially done for the year, four teams remain with a chance to lift the coveted IPL trophy. The first of four playoffs will see the Sunrisers Hyderabad take on the Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium. The loser of this match will play the winner from RR vs KKR, while the winner goes straight to the final.
SRH have suffered a string of losses recently, and fears run amok of them having peaked too early in the tournament. CSK managed to hold on to their second ranking, and have been far more consistent than the moody Sunrisers. Will the downward spiral continue, or will SRH be the first team to enter the final?
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, Tanmay Agarwal, Shreevats Goswami, Bipul Sharma, Mehdi Hasan, Alex Hales.
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.
Where the teams stand
The Sunrisers have a potential disaster on their hands after having one of their most successful seasons to date despite the absence of David Warner. The three losses have all seen something in common that SRHs bowlers lose their invincibility on good batting surfaces. In all their last three games, SRH has been pummeled for runs. The batting has improved significantly, but it is still lacking some punch in the lower middle order, which cost them against KKR. Mumbai will present yet another peach of a surface for the batsmen, and if their attack performs the way they have been, SRH could well need the extra-lifeline.
SRH are lucky that they finally seem to have a competitive opening combination after Goswami and Dhawan put on an impressive 79 run stand in the previous game. Williamson at 3 and Pandey at four are solid options, but the lineup thereafter has been bereft of any form or consistency. The inclusion of Carlos Brathwaite did not help as he succumbed early, and one has to wonder whether the foreigner's spot is best spent on him. Brathwaite is an obvious compromise to aid both their departments, but the management need to strengthen their batting more than their bowling. The toss will be crucial for the Sunrisers, more so than for CSK.
Fantasy Picks: Williamson, Dhawan, Bhuvi, and Rashid Khan are the reliable picks from this side. Manish Pandey has looked in good form while Sandeep Sharma has been fairly consistent with the ball.
Chennai Super Kings
Chennai’s fantastic bowling display on a pitch that had some assistance for the pacers is a good sign for them ahead of the playoffs, especially against a team struggling with the bat. Deepak Chahar’s return has greatly bolstered the bowling attack, while Ngidi was superb against Punjab too. Jadeja and Harbhajan have been economical while also managing to pick up crucial wickets. With Watson likely to return to the squad following his rest, Chennai has a very competitive bowling attack that will surely cause SRH many problems on a grassy pitch.
While the bowling is shaping up well, the batting has been CSKs strength in the latter half of the tournament. Rayudu and Dhoni are in stupendous form, while the rest have been contributing regularly as well. CSK could well bat first and put the opposition under pressure with a big total if they're feeling gutsy, they have the batting to do it. With Bravo, Watson, Raina, and others supporting the two big names, CSK is going to be difficult to beat.
Fantasy Picks: Rayudu, Dhoni, and Chahar have been the standouts for CSK this season. Raina and Jadeja are also worthy picks for their consistency this season. Harbhajan could also be an X-factor in the game.
CSK win. They have all the bases covered as SRH still struggle with prolonged consistency.
Will the Super Kings prove too strong or could the Sunrisers pull one out of the bag? Let us know in the comments and poll below.