Dhoni, even at 37 years of age, has found a second wind this year — 314 runs in nine games at an average of 104.66 with three fifties. It bodes well for CSK that in spite of the hiccups at the top, they are still leading the points table comfortably.
The Chennai franchise return to some home comfort and host Sunrisers Hyderabad in their next clash at Chepauk. A win will almost certainly assure an IPL-12 Playoff berth for the defending champions but it’s unlikely to be cakewalk.
Hyderabad will be pumped after their nine-wicket thrashing of Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday, once again led by their prolific openers David Warner (517 runs) and Jonny Bairstow (445 runs). The visitors will have to make the most of Bairstow, who is only available till Tuesday’s game before flying back to England to prepare for the World Cup.
They will also be without the services of their captain Kane Williamson, who has returned to New Zealand following the death of his grandmother. Bhuvneshwar Kumar will lead the side as he had done in Hyderabad's initial few games when Williamson was out injured. The New Zealander is expected to rejoin the side ahead of Hyderabad's next match against Rajasthan Royals on April 27. Mohammad Nabi is likely to replace him for the clash.
The form of the openers has made up for the struggles of their middle-order muck like CSK’s top-order. The strength of the Super Kings lies in their bowling attack, especially at home where Chepauk’s slow track makes the likes of Imran Tahir and Harbhajan Singh tough propositions.
The Sunrisers need slow-bowling back up for Rashid Khan but will be proved by the form of left-arm seamer Khaleel Ahmed, who has been brilliant since his return to the side from injury. The visitors will need Bhuvneshwar & Co to fire in tandem to keep the marauding Dhoni in check especially with ‘Yellow Army’ cheering him all the way.
Players to watch out for
MS Dhoni: They call him ‘Thala’ or big brother in Chennai and the CSK skipper has rescued the side more than once this season. While he fell excruciatingly short against RCB, Dhoni’s form with the willow makes him a big threat and Sunrisers will not take it easy till MS is in the middle.
David Warner: The Australian opener has been sensational all season, forming a terrific opening combination with Bairstow. Warner has been comfortable against both spin and pace and with the SRH middle-order struggling for form, the former captain’s role becomes crucial at the top of the order.
CSK: Dwayne Bravo has returned from injury but was still finding his way back against RCB. Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh should be back for game at Chepauk, where he has been among the wickets this season.
SRH: The line-up looks settled apart from struggles of Deepak Hooda and Yusuf Pathan. Manish Pandey has been sitting on the sidelines and could be given a go again.
CSK: MS Dhoni (captain & WK), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh and Deepak Chahar
SRH: Bhuvneshwar Kumar (c), Deepak Hooda, Manish Pandey/Yusuf Pathan, Siddarth Kaul, David Warner, Rashid Khan, Jonny Bairstow, Vijay Shankar, Mohammad Nabi, Shahbaz Nadeem and Sandeep Sharma
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (captain & WK), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Murali Vijay, Kedar Jadhav, Sam Billings, Ravindra Jadeja, Dhruv Shorey, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Rituraj Gaikwad, Dwayne Bravo, Karn Sharma, Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Santner, Shardul Thakur, Mohit Sharma, K M Asif, Deepak Chahar, N Jagadeesan (wk), Scott Kuggeleijn.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Kane Williamson (capt), Basil Thampi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Hooda, Manish Pandey, T Natarajan, Ricky Bhui, Sandeep Sharma, Siddarth Kaul, Shreevats Goswami, Khaleel Ahmed, Yusuf Pathan, Billy Stanlake, David Warner, Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, Shakib Al Hasan, Jonny Bairstow, Wriddhiman Saha, Martin Guptill, Vijay Shankar, Abhishek Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem.
First Published: April 22, 2019, 7:56 PM IST