CSK EYE­ING TO SEAL PLAY-OFF BERTH VS HY­DER­ABAD

Chen­nai are cur­rently at the sec­ond spot in the points-ta­ble be­hind Hy­der­abad.

The Sunday Guardian - - Sports - COR­RE­SPON­DENT PUNE

The Ma­hen­dra Singh Dhoniled 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, amass- ing 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 match­win­ning 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 ham- mered 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

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