Well, the two teams who had been the best throughout the round robin, have made it to the first qualifier. As everyone is aware that the winner books a ticket to the finals and the loser has to beat the winner of the eliminator to reach the grand finale, winning and avoiding a ride to Kolkata for the second qualifier will be a critical priority for the men in yellow and orange. The two teams playing today have been a cut above the rest. The contest, billed as ‘the battle of the captains’, is truly going to be a blockbuster.
What to expect: The pitch could be a spinners delight and might well have broken up by the time the game starts as the pitch would be 40-odd overs old. If the Women’s t20 challenge was an indicator of things to come, runs might be hard to come by.
SRH: They have been an indifferent side in their last 3 games, having lost all of them. Still, they go into this match as equals with CSK, if not favourites. Their biggest problem lies in their depth of batting and over reliance on Williamson and Dhawan. Also, teams have shown that their bowling line-up can be smashed to all parts if they aren’t up to the task. Still, they are the most balanced team and their fielding unit is second to none. An important thing to notice is that Williamson scored fifties in both matches against CSK but Rashid Khan has picked up only 1 wicket in the two matches combined giving away 74 runs in 8 overs. In fact, in all SRH has picked up only 5 wickets against CSK, 2 of them being run-outs by Kane Williamson.
CSK: Victory against SRH on both occasions, victory against MI at Wankhede and victory in their last match means CSK have all boxes ticked. Or do they? Batting hasn’t been a problem but no CSK spinner having taken more than 10 wickets is a problem, especially at Wankhede where the spin twin of Mishra and Sandeep showed that Wankhede could be a ‘spin it to win it’ sort of wicket. Rayudu’s form against SRH is worth keeping note of, having scored a ton and a 70 against them. Also, him being an ex-MI player makes him deadlier die to his familiarity with the wicket. Another important battle in CSK’s favour in Dhoni’s excellent form against Bhuvi. In fact, Dhoni has never been dismissed by the Willy bowler and has scored 87 runs off him in 47 balls.
Stats: The biggest stat of this game is as follows: Out of the 4 hundreds scored this season, 3 have been scored against Hyderabad and 2 have been scored by Chennai. Also, CSK has the best batting average whereas SRH has the second bowling average.
Who will win: Form points towards CSK but I think SRH might get the win due to their excellent fielding and CSK’s lethargic fielding. This difference in the quality of fielding might be worth 20-odd runs for SRH.