Pune, May 12: The Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings (CSK) will be desperate to return to their winning ways when they face table-toppers Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in an Indian Premier League (IPL) tie at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, here on Sunday.
Chennai, who sit at the second spot in the points-table, are yet to qualify for the play-offs as the yellow brigade suffered a four-wicket loss against Rajasthan Royals in their last encounter on Friday.
Hyderabad, on the other hand, have already sealed a play-off berth and will be eyeing another win to consolidate their position.
On Friday, a combined batting effort by Suresh Raina, skipper M.S. Dhoni and opener Shane Watson helped Chennai post a fighting total of 176 against Rajasthan. However, the bowlers led them down as Chennai failed to defend a good total.
So far, batsmen are the major reason behind Chennai’s success as they have been in top form this season however, death-over bowling still remains a concern.
Most of the batsmen — Ambati Rayudu, Australian Shane Watson, West Indian Dwayne Bravo, M.A. Dhoni and Suresh Raina — have contributed whenever the team needed.
Rayudu has batted well both as an opener and at number four, amassing 435 runs from 11 innings.
With 393 runs from 10 innings, Dhoni has also shown glimpses of the past.
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja, who struggled in the first half of the league, emerged with a match-winning figure of 3/18 against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
The pace attack will once again rely on Lungi Ngidi, David Willey and Shardul Thakur.
While Thakur, who had impressive figures of 1/22 in his four overs against Rajasthan, is set to feature in the playing XI against Hyderabad, Willey’s inclusion look difficult as the English pacer leaked 47 runs bagging a wicket.
Death over bowling will be the biggest concern for the Chennai team management as their opponents on Sunday are well capable of chasing or putting big totals on board, a thing which they have shown in past.
On the other hand, another win for Hyderabad will hand them their seventh consecutive victory this season.
The Kane Williamson-led side is currently in red-hot form. In their last encounter, Hyderabad hammered Delhi Daredevils by nine wickets while chasing a massive total of 188 runs.
The orange army is capable of putting huge totals as well as defending low scores.
Overall, its Hyderabad’s bowling unit led by the overseas spin twins — Afghan Rashid Khan and Bangladeshi Shakib Al Hasan — who have been instrumental till now.
The spinners have been well supported by the pace department led by fit-again Bhuvneshwar Kumar and young Siddharth Kaul.
Their batting mainly centres around the skipper — Williamson — who has repeatedly dug them out of troubled waters, scoring six half centuries so far in this season.
Opener Shikhar Dhawan, who struggled for runs earlier, got back his touch against Delhi, smashing a 50-ball unbeaten 92, laced with nine fours and four sixes.
However, Alex Hales and Manish Pandey need to shoulder the responsibility in case Williamson fails to deliver.
Come Sunday, it could be another edge of the seat match for fans when the top two teams of the cash-rich league square-off in a crucial tie. IANS