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Second-placed Chennai Super Kings will hope to regain the No.1 spot when they face table-toppers Delhi Capitals in an IPL 2019 clash at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Wednesday (May 1).
Both teams are on 16 points after 12 games and have sealed a playoff spot but an interesting contest is on the cards as a win for either side will help a great deal in consolidating their position on the points table.
Chennai's crushing 46-run loss against Mumbai Indians last time around meant their net run rate took a solid hit. They will be keen on getting back to winning ways and book a top-two place in a bid to get home comfort in Qualifier 1. Meanwhile Delhi, riding high after three successive victories will want to continue their victory march.
MS Dhoni, troubled by back spasms and fever, was sorely missed by Chennai in their last game and it remains to be seen whether the captain has recovered or not. The hosts will be expecting all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who also missed the Mumbai fixture due to illness, to be back in the mix too.
The much talked-about Chepauk pitch will once again come under the scanner. The surface has played very slow all through with run-scoring often proving to be tough. It will be interesting to see how the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant adapt against spin-heavy Chennai led by Harbhajan Singh and Imran Tahir.
This is Chennai's last home game this season and the Men in Yellow will be desperately hoping to give their loyal fans a winning send-off.
From Delhi's point of view, they have ticked most boxes so far making their way to the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Iyer has led admirably in his first stint as full-time captain of an IPL side both on the field and with the bat. He would hope his top order fires yet again on a sluggish surface where batsmen have found the going tough.
It will be fascinating to see how the league's top wicket-taker Kagiso Rabada performs on CSK's home turf, traditionally known to offer help to slower bowlers. Like they did in the previous game against Bangalore, Delhi might once again opt for three spinners in Axar Patel, Sandeep Lamichhane and Amit Mishra.
Chennai's batting unit sans Dhoni hasn't performed to expectations and the Delhi bowlers will want to make early inroads into the top-order and restrict them.
Dwayne Bravo's three-wicket haul followed by Shane Watson's 26-ball 44 helped Chennai coast to an easy six-wicket win the last time these two sides met in Delhi.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Imran Tahir: The second-highest wicket taker, Tahir has been a consistent performer for Chennai this season. He has so far scalped 17 wickets at a miserly economy of 6.50 and he will want to finish the home season with a win.
Sandeep Lamichhane: The leg-spinner has so far played just six games this season but has been impressive. On a surface where the ball is expected to grip and turn, Lamichhane can prove to be a handful and the Chennai batsman will have to be wary of him.
Chennai: It remains unclear whether Dhoni and Jadeja have recovered. If they do, Dhruv Shorey and Mitchell Santner could make way.
Delhi: The visitors will not be too keen to tinker with a winning combination.
Chennai Super Kings: Shane Watson, Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Dhruv Shorey/MS Dhoni (c/wk), Kedar Jadhav, Dwayne Bravo, Mitchell Santner/Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar, Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir
Delhi Capitals: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer(c), Rishabh Pant(w), Sherfane Rutherford, Colin Ingram, Axar Patel, Kagiso Rabada, Sandeep Lamichhane, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma