Sunrisers Hyderabad will be out of top-four contention if they lose on Thursday
This Chennai Super Kings side – which is one win away from a spot in the playoffs – functions at a very high level because of a stable first XI with clear role definitions.
Faf du Plessis is the aggressor. And while he takes care of the run-rate, Ruturaj Gaikwad can simply play to his best tempo.
Moeen Ali and Ambati Rayudu are perfect as No. 3 and 4 because of their natural ability to attack spin bowling. It is thanks to their efforts that Super Kings have been the quickest scoring team (9.05) in the middle overs (7-16) this season.
Then comes Ravindra Jadeja, whose batting and finishing ability has shot through the roof, so much so that he is basically carrying MS Dhoni, which is fair enough since MS Dhoni has carried this team for years.
There. That’s the plan. And it never changes.
Sunrisers Hyderabad on the other hand began the season with a captain whom they no longer want in the XI, their middle order is so brittle it limits the way their top order plays and a lack of a recognised finisher means there is always a chance of things going wrong at the exact time you want everything to go right – the death overs. This disarray is the reason why they are dead last on the points table. A loss tomorrow will eliminate them from playoff contention.
In the news
Sunrisers Hyderabad: 1 Jason Roy, 2 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Priyam Garg, 5 Abhishek Sharma, 6 Jason Holder, 7 Abdul Samad, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Siddharth Kaul, 11 Sandeep Sharma
Chennai Super Kings: 1 Faf du Plessis, 2 Ruturaj Gaikwad, 3 Moeen Ali, 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Sam Curran/Dwayne Bravo, 9 Shardul Thakur, 10 Deepak Chahar, 11 Josh Hazlewood/Imran Tahir
- If there is one team against whom Dhoni can finish the way he used to, it is Sunrisers. He is destructive against their death bowlers, taking 81 runs off 46 balls from Bhuvneshwar Kumar and 45 off 25 from Siddharth Kaul. But this plan only works if – and it’s a big if – CSK can prevent their thala from facing Rashid Khan because that head-to-head ain’t pretty: 23 runs in 32 balls, one dismissal.
- Kane Williamson loves playing against Super Kings. Check out how his stats against all their best bowlers: 50 runs off 29 balls against Dwayne Bravo; once dismissed, 49 off 35 against Jadeja; never dismissed, 57 off 38 against Shardul Thakur; twice dismissed and 58 off 44 against Deepak Chahar; never dismissed. Williamson batting through the innings could once again prove crucial to Sunrisers’ chances.
Stats that matter
- Last IPL, over the course of 12 matches, the average first-innings score in Sharjah was 178. But this season, thanks to a relaid pitch that is a lot slower and a lot less conducive for shot-making, the average first-innings score is only 136.
- A measure of how incredible Jadeja has been with the bat in recent seasons. Since IPL 2020, he is one of only three players to score at least 400 runs and average over 50. The others are KL Rahul and Williamson.
- Rashid finds life a bit tougher than usual playing against the Super Kings. He averages 27.6 – his worst out of all teams – and gives up a boundary almost every over (33 in 36) – again his worst out of all teams.
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo