New Delhi: We have reached the playoffs stage of the IPL. And to kick off the action, the top teams -- SRH and CSK -- will square off against each other for a direct entry to the final, at the Wankhede stadium on Tuesday.
While MS Dhoni lead Chennai are certainly richer on experience, it is the age factor of the team that could be a deterrent. On the other hand, SRH are brimming with confidence and have reached the top with clinical performances with both bat and ball. In the absence of regular skipper David Warner, Kane Williamson has marshalled his troops with such expertise that even the most experienced sides were stunned seeing them stand as a unit.
Though it was the bowling that had given SRH a clear lead in the initial stages of the tournament, the batting caught up later to portray them as a unit. Williamson has been the navigator and has made sure he has stayed to take the innings deeper. Continuous cricket though has seemed to be taking a toll on the players, especially bowlers and SRH have blinked lately.
Both Rashid Khan and Siddarth Kaul have proven expensive and that is something SRH will be looking to improve against CSK.
As far as CSK are concerned, It is their batting that has led their way to the top. Ambati Rayudu has been in top form and Shane Watson has deftly supported him. MS Dhoni has finished games and will be expected to play that part on Tuesday to make sure the Chennai outfit has a direct entry.
CSK, in all their nine years, have qualified for the playoffs and this time, they would be looking to confirm a direct entry to take a shot at the title the third time.
Any side that loses here, will travel to Kolkata for the eliminator while the winner will have the liberty to relax for four days. In this case, CSK will be wishing to qualify sooner because should they go down today against SRH, they will be up against a KKR outfit that has beaten them twice at the Eden Garden.
However, these are the players to watch out for:
1. Ambati Rayudu: The Hyderabad batsman will be up against the Hyderabad outfit. In his previous meeting against the same opponents, he had displayed his class and had demolished the attack with utter disdain. At the peak of his form, Rayudu's contribution will be the deciding factor in CSK's outcome.
2. Rashid Khan: Even if he went for runs in the previous few meetings, you cannot discount him yet. He packs tricks up his sleeve and couple of blows by him can derail the team completely. SRH will hope that it is his day at the Wankhede and he gives them the control.
3. MS Dhoni: The CSK skipper not only impresses with his sharp thinking but also wins hearts with his clinical approach with the bat. His nudging around and rotation of strike takes less than a moment to get transformed into big hitting and he remains aware of the situation like nobody else does. So, CSK might get off to a flier but it will Dhoni's masterclass that will help them to reach a competitive total.