Chance for Super Kings to seal play-offs berth
Chennai: Title contenders Chennai Super Kings would look to consolidate their position and virtually seal a play-offs berth when they clash with Delhi Daredevils, sans Virender Sehwag, in an Indian Premier League match here on Thursday.
The Super Kings looked impregnable at home this season with five wins from as many matches but, on the other hand, the Daredevils, who will be led by James Hopes in Sehwag`s absence, showed flashes of brilliance but struggled for consistency throughout the tournament.
Thanks to their indifferent form, the Daredevils are languishing at seventh place with just four wins and seven defeats from 11 games.
Hopes, appointed captain after Sehwag suffered a shoulder injury for which he is set to undergo surgery in London, faces an acid test.
On the other hand, the Super Kings peaked at the right time, and the convincing away win in their last match against Rajasthan Royals will only add to the confidence of a team seeking to defend its title.
A second spot in the standings with 14 points from seven wins are indications enough of Chennai`s form and their urge to win at any cost.
Apart from the in-form Chennai players, the struggling visitors will also have to cope with the vocal home crowd at the MA Chidambaram stadium.
Making good use of the depth in batting and the solid starts, the Super Kings came out with flying colours on all the seven occasions they had batted first.
Despite being restricted to a low total, the rain-marred match against Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens could have been anybody`s, but the home side won on Duckworth Lewis method.
Compared to the other teams in fray, the Super Kings top-order was one of the best in the tournament, often providing the team the start it needed, and which went a long way in maintaining a healthy record.
As they say if the top-order fires the batsmen that follow benefit, and that was exactly the case with the Super Kings.
Such is the balance of Mahendra Singh Dhoni`s side that it can try various combinations on any given day. The home side`s top six have been among runs.
Middle order batsman Subramaniam Badrinath has excelled making 294 runs at an average of 98 and Aussie import Michael Hussey is the side`s leading scorer with 388 runs. Hussey is followed by Suresh Raina (320) Murali Vijay (277) and Dhoni
Super Kings` bowling is also no less strong with Doug Bollinger (13 wkts), Albie Morkel (13), Ravichandran Ashwin (12) and Shadab Jakati and Suraj Randiv (six each) doing the job.
As far as Delhi are concerned, Sehwag has been their man and the team looked solely dependent on him.
Despite playing with a burdened shoulder, the Nawab of Najabgarh slammed 424 runs from 11 innings, including a century that knocked the daylights out of the Kings XI Punjab bowlers.
While they struggled for a major part of the tournament, whatever little the Daredevils achieved was due to Sehwag`s brilliance, and the big-hitting opener`s absence would surely be felt.
Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Michael Hussey, Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina, Albie Morkel, Subramaniam Badrinath, S Anirudha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Doug Bollinger, Shadab Jakati, Suraj Randiv, Faf du Plessis, Dwayne Bravo, Ben Hilfenhaus, Nuwan Kulasekara, Tim Southee, Scott Styris, George Bailey, Joginder Sharma, Yo Mahesh, Abhinav Mukund, Wriddhiman Saha, Sudeep Tyagi, Ganapathi Vignesh and Kuthethurshri Vasudevadas.
Delhi Daredevils: James Hopes (capt), Irfan Pathan, Naman Ojha, Ajit Agarkar, Ashok Dinda, Umesh Yadav, Venugopal Rao, Aavishkar Salvi, Prashant Naik, Rajesh Pawar, Robin Bist, S Sriram, Tejaswi Yadav, Unmukh Chand, Varun Aaron, Vikas Mishra, Vivek Yadav, Yogesh Nagar, Shahbaz Nadeem, David Warner, Morne Morkel, Aaron Finch, Mathew Wade, Roelof van der Merwe, Andrew McDonald, Travis Birt, Colin Ingram, Robert Frylinck.