Mumbai: Winner stays put in Mumbai; loser goes to Kolkata, with a hope to come back to Mumbai. The league stage is over and the playoffs of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 are about to begin as Chennai Super Kings (CSK) face Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in Qualifier 1 at the Wankhede Stadium here on Tuesday.
SRH and CSK were the top two teams (on points table) following the conclusion of league stage and it grants them two shots to make it to the final. While the winner of the Qualifier 1 gets a direct entry into the final, the loser will get a chance to square off against the winner from the Eliminator – either Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) or Rajasthan Royals (RR) – in Qualifier 2 and reach the May 27 final.
SRH were pushed on the backfoot after David Warner, who was retained along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar before the auction, and who was expected to lead the side, was barred from IPL 2018 after Cricket Australia handed him a one-year ban for his involvement in ball-tampering saga in South Africa.
However, Kane Williamson’s solid batting form (8 fifties and 661 runs from 14 games) and leadership skills (9 wins from 14 games) have pretty much negated a void Warner’s absence would have otherwise left. While the New Zealander is the second highest run-getter after the league stage, Shikhar Dhawan’s form – three fifties in the last five games – is a welcome sign for SRH.
However, Williamson will be worried about SRH’s middle-order – an area MS Dhoni’s CSK will like to target. The likes of Manish Pandey (276 runs from 14 games), Shakib Al Hasan (176 runs from 14 games) and Yusuf Pathan (188 from 12 games) have not been consistent.
While Williamson’s batting form has been exemplary, the way he has handled his bowlers, set Sunrisers apart from all the other teams in this year’s campaign. The Hyderabad franchise defended the scores of 118 (vs Mumbai Indians), 132 (vs Kings XI Punjab), 146 (vs Royal Challengers Bangalore) and 151 (vs Rajasthan Royals); even when they did not have the services of Bhuvi in some of those games. While medium-pacer Siddarth Kaul has 17 wickets against his name from 14 games, the spinners – Rashid Khan and Shakib Al Hasan – have scalped 16 and 13 wickets respectively.
However, SRH will need to up their game to avoid a hat-trick of defeats against CSK in IPL 2018. If SRH have been the best defenders of IPL 2018, CSK, who made a comeback to IPL after two years, have been the best chasers in this edition of the tournament. Out of their nine wins, six have come while chasing.
The troika of Ambati Rayudu (586 runs), MS Dhoni (446 runs) and Shane Watson (438 runs) have led CSK’s charge with the bat and ‘Mr IPL’ Suresh Raina, Sam Billings and Dwayne Bravo have put up their hand and contributed when the team needed it the most. While Dhoni has managed to turn back the clock, with big-hitting and chasing master classes, Rayudu has been a revelation; so much so that he has earned a recall to India’s ODI squad after two years.
CSK though will need to sort out their death bowling game. While Bravo has been given that responsibility, the West Indian, following his opening game heroics against Mumbai Indians (MI) with the ball, has struggled. However, CSK’s bowling at the top has been their biggest positive, with young Deepak Chahar (9 wickets from 10 games) being the most impressive of the lot, and Shardul Thakur (14 wickets from 11 games) chipping in with some good performances with the ball. Lungi Ngidi’s showing (4/10) against KXIP, during the final game before the playoffs, will provide CSK a boost.
While there have not been too many breakout performances from CSK spinners like those of their SRH counterparts, the likes of Harbhajan Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Imran Tahir and Karn Sharma, they have managed to do well whenever their skipper wanted them the most.
Head to Head:
Total matches: 8
CSK won: 6
SRH won: 2
In IPL 2018:
Total matches: 2
CSK won: 2
SRH won: 0
Ambati Rayudu (CSK): 586 runs
Kane Williamson (SRH): 661 runs
Shardul Thakur (CSK): 14 wickets
Siddarth Kaul (SRH): 17 wickets
Kane Williamson (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Manish Pandey, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rashid Khan, Shakib Al Hasan, Siddharth Kaul, Deepak Hooda, Khaleel Ahmed, Sandeep Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Wriddhiman Saha, Shreevats Goswami, Ricky Bhui, Basil Thampi, T Natarajan, Sachin Baby, Bipul Sharma, Mehdi Hasan, Tanmay Agarwal, Alex Hales, Carlos Brathwaite, Mohammad Nabi, Chris Jordan.
Chennai Super Kings:
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Captain), Shane Watson, Ambati Rayadu, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Faf Du Plessis, Harbhajan Singh, Dwayne Bravo, Deepak Chahar, Lungi Ngidi, Dhruv Shorey, Murali Vijay, Sam Billings, Mark Wood, K M Asif, Kanish Seth, Kshtiz Sharma, Monu Kumar, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Imran Tahir, Karn Sharma, Shardul Thakur, N Jagadeesan, David Willy.
The match is scheduled to start at 7 P.M. IST....