MS Dhoni summed up Chennai Super Kings' situation in typical fashion after the loss to Mumbai Indians in the first qualifier. CSK's around-the-wicket route now has a major hurdle in the form of a resurgent Delhi Capitals in the second qualifier on Friday (May 10). The winner of this game will play Mumbai Indians for the title on Sunday.
It's the success of the IPL that three teams with 18 points each in the league stage are the ones that are standing, with two games left in the tournament.
Friday's clash in Visakhapatnam will be one between youth and veterans. Delhi's rise has been possible because of their faith in youngsters. Chennai have banked on experience over the last two years, with success. Delhi have never been in an IPL final. In fact, their win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in the eliminator was their first victory in play-offs. Chennai have been in the final seven times, and won it thrice.
Does that mean CSK have an edge? Not really, for Delhi have form by their side. They go into game having won their last two matches, including one in the venue of the second qualifier. Chennai have lost their last two matches, including one at home that would have dented their confidence.
Yet, CSK would be confident facing Delhi, for they beat them twice in the league stage. The second victory - by 80 runs - dented Delhi's net run-rate and pushed them down in the table.
Wednesday's eliminator showed that the Visakhapatnam pitch is not too dissimilar to the home pitches of both the sides. Delhi and Chennai have played majority of their matches on spin friendly, slow tracks and have sides built precisely for such conditions. CSK have Imran Tahir, Ravindra Jadeja and Harbhajan Singh. Delhi have Amit Mishra, Axar Patel and slow bowlers in Sherfane Rutherford and Keemo Paul.
Where the sides differ is their areas of strength in batting. CSK have struggled at the top, with Shane Watson in terrible form, and Faf du Plessis and Suresh Raina inconsistent. Their batting has almost always looked up to Dhoni to do the job. Delhi are top heavy, with Shikhar Dhawan and Shreyas Iyer in fine form while Prithvi Shaw and Rishabh Pant have made timely contributions, like in the eliminator.
PREVIOUS MEETINGS THIS SEASON
CSK won by six wickets in Delhi.
CSK won by 80 runs in Chennai.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Rishabh Pant: The 21-year-old made a 21-ball 49 on Wednesday, helping DC overcome a middle order collapse to chase down a tricky target. He didn't quite finish the game, but his knock proved to be the difference between the sides. Pant has made 450 runs from 15 innings this year, striking at more than 163. If he can extend that, Delhi will be in a position to push for their maiden title.
Shane Watson: CSK have backed him with all their might this season, with very little success. Yet, their backing is unlikely to change, for they're hoping for one big knock like in the IPL final last year. Watson has made only 268 runs in 15 matches this year, including a 96 against Sunrisers. The Visakhapatnam pitch demands quick hitting in the Power Plays, and Watson will have to step up. He can take confidence from his Man of the Match award winning 26-ball 44 against Delhi in the league stage at Feroz Shah Kotla.
Delhi: Shreyas Iyer is unlikely to change his winning combination.
Chennai: Any other side would be tempted to change the opening pair, but CSK are unlikely to do that. Expect the same XI!
DC: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Colin Munro, Shreyas Iyer(c), Rishabh Pant(w), Sherfane Rutherford, Axar Patel, Keemo Paul, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Trent Boult.
CSK: Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Murali Vijay, MS Dhoni(w/c), Ambati Rayudu, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Deepak Chahar, Imran Tahir.
First Published: May 9, 2019, 7:01 PM IST