Delhi Capitals will hope to produce a special effort in Vizag on Friday to beat the mighty, yet vulnerable, Chennai Super Kings for the first time this season. At stake for the erstwhile Daredevils is a place in the Indian Premier League final for the first time in their history.

There is no doubt that momentum is in favour of Shreyas Iyer’s exciting young team as CSK have faltered in the second half of the season — after winning 7 of their first 8 matches, CSK only managed two wins in their following seven matches.

It was CSK who denied Delhi a top-two spot in the league standings with a crushing 80-run win at Chepauk and the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side stands in their way again — only, the stakes are much higher in Qualifier 2.

The tense win in the Eliminator, set up by their star player Rishabh Pant, on Wednesday night is bound to provide an extra dose of motivation for Delhi going into the knock-out game.

Pant’s 21-ball 49 in a high-pressure game reignited the debate on social media over his non-selection in India’s World Cup squad with former England captain Michael Vaughan saying it was “bonkers” to not have the young-wicketkeeper batsman in the mega event starting May 30. His sensational effort made all the difference in the run-chase but he got out when his team was very close to the finishing line.

Not being able to finish games is one criticism that Pant has had to deal with repeatedly and there would be no better stage than Qualifier 2 to come up with another match-wining knock and, perhaps, carry his bat through.

Another young gun Prithvi Shaw too played an important innings of 56 and was happy to be back among the runs after low-scores in the previous three innings.

Delhi, having already played a game here, will have the advantage of knowing the the conditions better.

Their fast bowlers, Trent Boult and Ishant Sharma, did a decent job in the absence of Kagiso Rabada and were well supported by Keemo Paul, who picked up three wickets. Veteran spinner Amit Mishra was frugal again and also picked up an important wicket.

The batsmen would be rather relieved that they would not have to face the spin threat of Imran Tahir and Harbhajan Singh on a turner in Chennai but it would be a challenge nonetheless.

Another thing Delhi would have to be wary of is stage fright — the Eliminator, after all, was the first time ever the franchise has tasted success in the IPL playoffs.

CSK, on the other hand, are used to playing the big matches, having won three titles besides being runners-up four times. They were hammered by Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 1 but possess the temperament to bounce back.

Dhoni will be expecting an improved performance from his batsmen after the disappointment against MI. In fact, the entire season has been a case of Dhoni carrying the bating lineup on his already dodgy back.

CSK have the lowest average opening partnership this season; their openers average 18.07 as a pair. Shane Watson has not been among the runs before and after smashing a 53-ball 96 against Sunrisers on April 23.

Dhoni admitted that they could have read the conditions better against Mumbai at home and asked his batsmen to be careful with shot selection going forward.

“These are the best batsmen we have got, it looks like we are are batting well, but at times, they pull off shots that shouldn’t be played. These are the players who we have banked on, they have the experience and they should know to assess the conditions better,” said Dhoni after the six-wicket loss to Mumbai.

It is unlikely that CSK will make changes to their lineup but they desperately need a collective performance — only Dhoni features in the top-15 run-getters of this season.

Key battles

  • Shikhar Dhawan / Prithvi Shaw vs Deepak Chahar: Both openers are in form while Chahar has the best powerplay record in 2019.
  • MS Dhoni vs Delhi’s death bowlers: In Kagiso Rabada’s absence, Paul and Co must figure out a way to keep Dhoni quiet.
  • Rishabh Pant vs CSK spinners: In the Elminator, Pant had to contend just with Rashid Khan, but in this match he will be up against the best spin attack in the tournament.

Previous meetings in 2019

  • DC v CSK: Delhi got off to a solid start but ended up with just 147 due to their uncertain batting approach on a typical Kotla wicket. When CSK came out to bat, they knew what they had to do. They set off with one simple plan – to bring the required run-rate down to a run-a-ball as quickly as possible. They took full advantage of the Powerplay overs knowing that it would only get tougher later on. Once the required run-rate was down to 6, Kedar Jadhav and Dhoni just knocked the ball around. Their strike-rates were below 100 but it got the job done. It was a typical, clinical CSK display.
  • CSK v DC: Dhoni’s prowess in the slog overs was on display yet again while home spinners bamboozled DC batsmen as CSK coasted to a massive 80-run win at Chepauk. It was Suresh Raina who made a fighting 59 off 37 balls to prepare the road for revival following a slow start and Dhoni (unbeaten 44 off 22) provided the late flourish yet again. Capitals had hoped that dew would come in to play while batting second but Chennai spinners bamboozled them from the word go, never allowing them to settle. Imran Tahir (4/12) and Ravindra Jadeja (3/9) tore apart the middle order. The night, however, belonged to Dhoni yet again. As he has all season, CSK skipper had once again delivered a masterclass in batting, wicketkeeping and captaincy.

Head to Head in IPL:

Overall: Matches – 20, Chennai Super Kings – 14, Delhi Capitals – 6.


Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Murali Vijay, 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, Scott Kuggeleijn.

Delhi Capitals: Shreyas Iyer (captain), Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Colin Ingram, Keemo Paul, Axar Patel, Rahul Tewatia, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Hanuma Vihari, Ankush Bains, J Suchith, Manjot Kalra, Chris Morris, Sherfane Rutherford, Jalaj Saxena, Sandeep Lamichhane, Trent Boult, Avesh Khan, Nathu Singh, Bandaru Ayyappa, Colin Munro.

Match starts 7.30 IST.

(With PTI and inputs)