Remember all those times you flunked a test and were sent to extra coaching before the crack of dawn? Well, Chennai Super Kings might experience some of that as they prepare to meet the already-qualified Sunrisers Hyderabad.
MS Dhoni actually looked like the dad who just didn’t know what to do with his kid – shrugging and shaking his head in exasperation – on Friday. After protecting his rag-tag bunch from cat-calls of “you’re too old” and “you field like a hologram”, the man has had enough. Execution matters, he said. Planning alone won’t work, he said. The bowlers need to commit to the plans, he said.
Now, there would almost always be a pesky friend in this scenario, one who scores 90s and 100s all the time, sniggering away in the background. That’s Kane Williamson and his boys. They’re through to the knockouts of the IPL and they passed that test despite a ton of out-of-syllabus questions set by Professor Pant.
CSK’s bowling is only threatening on slower pitches. With the ball not coming onto the bat, their spinners suffocate oppositions. But the problem is Sunrisers have two of the very best in that very art – Rashid Khan and Shakib Al Hasan. So perhaps they should hope for a batting pitch so they can outgun the table-toppers?
In the news
David Willey and Sam Billings had forgettable outings in Jaipur and may be replaced by Lungi Ngidi and Faf du Plessis.
Super Kings have once again arranged a train to bring 1000 fans from Chennai to Pune to watch the match.
CSK were going nowhere until Ambati Rayudu made the scoreboard move like errant children under the glare of the headmaster and set up a four-run win over Sunrisers.
Chennai Super Kings: 1 Shane Watson, 2 Faf du Plessis, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Karn Sharma, 10 Shardul Thakur, 11 Lungi Ngidi
Sunrisers Hyderabad: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Alex Hales, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Shakib Al Hasan, 5 Manish Pandey, 6 Yusuf Pathan, 7 Rashid Khan, 8 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Siddharth Kaul, 11 Sandeep Sharma
Offspin has worked against Dhoni (strike rate 92) and Suresh Raina (strike rate 112). To do that Sunrisers may want to bring in Mohammad Nabi, but use him after Ambati Rayudu (strike rate 148) and Shane Watson (strike rate 157) are out of the picture because they’ve been wallopping offspinners
Maybe Rashid Khan could target Rayudu (strike rate of 127 v legspin) and Shakib Al Hasan can work on Watson, who has faced 11 balls from a left-arm spinner and lost his wicket twice. All figures mentioned are for this IPL season only.
On the flip side, CSK can try Karn Sharma against Shakib. The head-to-head in all T20s reads: seven balls, zero runs and two wickets.
Stats that matter
Sunrisers have won six matches in a row so far, making it their longest winning streak in the IPL
Watson needs 11 runs to get to 3000 in the IPL. And he has been in such form this season that he’s not been troubled by fast bowling (strike rate 154, average 39) or spin bowling (strike rate 151, average 30)
Kane Williamson will be vital for Sunrisers to negotiate Super Kings because he’s been magic against slow bowling this IPL: 202 runs in 164 balls, only one dismissal
Dwayne Bravo has probably been the only fast bowler CSK can trust and he’s got a good record against Sunrisers: 13 wickets in 29 overs at an economy rate of 7.6
Take Dhoni. He averages 61 and strikes at 158 against Sunrisers. He is also fairly prolific in Pune with 456 runs in 16 innings.
Sandeep Sharma (six wickets in 14 overs) and Shakib (four wickets in 11 overs) also have an excellent record at the MCA stadium.