Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Chennai Super Kings | Wednesday 08 May | Hyderabad | 16:30
The table-topping Chennai Super Kings are, as expected, well in control of the IPL log. They’ve reached the magical nine wins, despite a recent crushing loss to the Mumbai Indians, and bar any real catastrophes, will find themselves in the playoffs yet again. Sunrisers Hyderabad have been the surprise package of the tournament, their home form earning them a place embroiled in the mid-table battle for the remaining playoff slots. They are one of four sides all sitting on fourteen points and will probably require another three wins from their final five matches to seal themselves a trip out of the group stages in their first year of the competition.
Super Kings 11/20
The public in Hyderabad have had to be patient in their wait for something to celebrate. A few years ago the cricket association sought divine intervention to sway the fortune of the home side, no matter who it was. India, the now defunct Deccan Chargers and the local Ranji side all had a history of defeat at the ground. The prayer must have worked, with India winning two tests in Hyderabad and the Sunrisers, taking over in the IPL from where the Chargers left off, having won five from five. Their bowling attack has definitely been their asset. Dale Steyn has been at his ferocious best, well supported by Ishant Sharma with the new ball. Thisara Perera has impressed with both bat and ball, while the spin twins of Amit Mishra and Karan Sharma have been quite a handful on the Hyderabad wicket, which has offered turn for the spinners. The Sunrisers have bowled their way to success more often than not in this competition and it is their frail batting lineup that has caused the most distress. The likes of Cameron White and Kumar Sangakkara have been bitterly disappointing, while youngsters Quinton de Kock and Akshath Reddy have barely featured. The return of Shikhar Dhawan has added much needed impetus and form to the top order and the Sunrisers will need him firing on all cylinders against the Super Kings.
Up until their last encounter, it seemed like little could stop the ever-powerful Super Kings. It was a shambolic batting performance against the Indians that led to the lowest total of this year’s IPL; a modest 79. The Super Kings are the best at chasing a total of all the IPL franchises, which they’ve proved time and time again under the watchful gaze of MS Dhoni. The freak style of the loss was put down to complacency by the captain, who believes the side merely lost their focus after a long string of victories (seven in a row). By that as it may, the Super Kings are still well placed at the top of table and can afford to drop a game or two. Indeed, management expressed that the loss to the Indians probably came at the right time of the tournament, allowing the side to reset their sights on the task at hand. While their batting lineup is immensely powerful, it is their bowling, especially at the death, that remains an issue. It is all well and good that Dwayne Bravo has taken the most wickets this season, however if he gives away runs at the end of the innings in a playoff - the same way he has in the group stages - the Super Kings will struggle. He’s also been bereft of adequate support. Mike Hussey has been fantastic with the bat, as has much of the middle-order, but Chennai are yet to settle on a suitable opening partner for the retired Australian.
Hyderabad has been a tricky venue for travelling sides. The pitch is slow but assists the seamers with some lateral movement, while the spinners are able to find purchase and clog up the middle overs. The Sunrises will be tough to beat here.
BEST: Top Sunrisers Batsman, Shikhar Dhawan 2/1
Since his return from injury, Dhawan has picked up where he left off prior to the IPL. His previous seven innings before the T20 tournament yielded scores of 187, 63, 0, 110, 30, 13 and 116*. In his four matches back from injury he’s scored 63* and 73*, his other two innings not worth a mention. He’s clearly in a dangerous run of form and I tip him to continue it in a game of much importance for his franchise.
VERDICT: Sunrisers 27/20
The Sunrisers form at their home ground is second-to-none. Chennai travel pretty well but I feel their batting may come unstuck again against a well-oiled Hyderabad bowling attack. The Super Kings are basically guaranteed a spot in the playoffs while the Sunrisers are still fighting for position. Back the upset.
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