Having comfortably qualifying for the play-offs, Chennai Super Kings will look iron out the chinks when they take on Delhi Daredevils in a rare dead rubber of the Indian Premier League in Delhi on Friday.
The Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led squad is eyeing the top spot on the points table alongside Sunrisers Hyderabad, whom they comprehensively beat in their previous game.
The consistency CSK have shown in the tournament, after missing out in the previous two seasons and being forced to move out of Chennai due to the Cauvery water dispute, has been remarkable.
Their opening combination of Ambati Rayudu and Shane Watson has worked brilliantly while chasing big totals as well as setting them. Rayudu, with 535 runs at 48.63 average, has been their standout player, which was acknowledged by Dhoni after the opener smashed an unbeaten century against Sunrisers.
Be it opening the batting or in the middle order, Rayudu has delivered for the team.
Dhoni himself has turned back the clock with his clean hitting, helping him amass 413 runs at 103.25. Watson too has been exceptional with 424 runs at 35.33.
The bowling may not have stood out individually, but has got the job done as a unit. Shardul Thakur has been their leading wicket-taker with 11 dismissals, followed by Dwayne Bravo, who has picked up nine. The experienced spin duo of Harbhajan Singh and Ravindra Jadeja have been effective at keeping things tight.
CSK will get to fine tune their game against Daredevils, a team which has been below par yet again. Despite getting Ponting on board as coach and bringing in Shreyas Iyer as captain in place of Gautam Gambhir in the middle of the tournament, the side has continued to struggle.
They have had the much-needed break of five days and will be fresh going into Friday’s game. They are playing for pride and would like to be on the winning side in their remaining two games.
The management handed out IPL debuts to Sandeep Lamichhane, Abhishek Sharma and Junior Dala in the previous game against RCB.
Nepal spinner Lamichhane impressed as he opened the bowling. India Under-19 player Sharma was a big surprise with his big hitting, hammering an unbeaten 46 off 19 balls. South African pacer Dala though disappointed as he went wicketless in three overs conceding 34 runs.
The trio is expected to get another opportunity to prove their worth and it will not be surprising if a couple of other players on the sidelines get a look in.
Match starts: 8pm
At the Feroz Shah Kotla Ground
Overall: Matches – 17, Chennai Super Kings won – 12, Delhi Daredevils won – 5
Stats & Trivia
- Rishabh Pant needs 70 more runs to take over the Orange Cap from KL Rahul, who got on top of the table with his 94 in a losing cause against Mumbai Indians.
- Chennai Super Kings have hit the most sixes in this IPL so far; a total of 116 sixes in 12 matches this season.
- Chennai Super Kings have the best overall scoring rate in IPL 2018 – 9.31
- Delhi Daredevils have the poorest economy rate of all teams in IPL 2018 – 9.34.
“Even before IPL started I had to make space for Rayudu, because he is somebody I rate very highly. He can play both the fast bowlers and spinners very well. Most teams look to exploit the opener with spin bowling. He is someone who does not look like a big hitter but almost clears the field every time he plays the big shot.”
– Dhoni on Ambati Rayudu
Delhi Daredevils: Shreyas Iyer (C), Rishabh Pant, Glenn Maxwell, Gautam Gambhir, Jason Roy, Colin Munro, Mohammed Shami, Amit Mishra, Prithvi Shaw, Rahul Tewatia, Vijay Shankar, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan, Shahbaz Nadeem, Daniel Christian, Jayant Yadav, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Trent Boult, Manjot Kalra, Abhishek Sharma, Sandeep Lamichhane, Naman Ojha, Sayan Ghosh, Liam Plunkett, Junior Dala.
Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (C), Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Faf Du Plessis, Harbhajan Singh, Dwayne Bravo, Shane Watson, Ambati Rayadu, Deepak Chahar, K M Asif, Kanish Seth, Lungi Ngidi, Dhruv Shorey, Murali Vijay, Sam Billings, Mark Wood, Kshtiz Sharma, Monu Kumar, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Imran Tahir, Karn Sharma, Shardul Thakur, N Jagadeesan, David Willy.
With inputs from PTI and iplt20.com