CSK aim at qualification, DC look to end season on a high
By: Aparajita Upadhyay
New Delhi: A determined Chennai Super Kings unit wouldn’t mind being masters of its own fate in its bid to steamroll the already ousted Delhi Capitals, who are looking to end a forgettable IPL campaign on a high in a final league game, here on Saturday.
At the moment, CSK are on second on the points table with 15 points from 13 games. But a loss against DC along with a string of unfavourable results could see the four-time champions miss out on the last leg of IPL action.
A win would, however, confirm a play-off spot but whether they finish in second place or third would depend on the Lucknow Super Giants’ result against Kolkata Knight Riders later in the day.
CSK have a better net run rate of +0.381 than LSG’s +0.304, who are also on 15 points.
The slow nature of Feroz Shah Kotla track will suit CSK’s game-plan and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, in all likelihood playing his last competitive game in the National Capital will like to make full use of the conditions against an out-of-sorts team.
Batting has been CSK’s strong suit. Devon Conway, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ajinkya Rahane have provided solid starts but CSK need the likes of Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja and Moeen Ali to complement Shivam Dube better in the middle overs.
Dhoni has managed some cameos in the fag end of the innings and the skipper is expected to continue doing so despite calls of him coming up the order.
On the bowling front, Tushar Deshpande has been expensive but he gets breakthroughs while young pacer Matheesha Pathirana has been doing a good job.
The spin trio of Jadeja, Moeen and Maheesh Theekshana have also been effective in stemming the flow of runs.
But standing in CSK’s way is an unpredictable Delhi side.
After a miserable first half, where they lost five games on the trot, the Capitals did manage to pick up some momentum, winning five out of their next eight games but it came too late in the competition.
They are out of the reckoning but head into the contest on the back of their first 200 plus scores and a morale boosting 15-run win over Punjab Kings, all but ending their chances of qualification.
Come Saturday, David Warner and Co. would like to play the proverbial party-poopers once again by ending their IPL season with a win at home.
But Delhi hasn’t fared well at home, with skipper Warner conceding their batting unit has struggled to figure out what the best total is at the Feroz Shah Kotla this season because of slow and inconsistent pitches.
Apart from a few cameos by Axar Patel, Delhi’s Indian batting line-up has failed miserably this season.
Prithvi Shaw has perhaps been the biggest letdown along with veteran Manish Pandey, who is into his 16th IPL season.
After a string of underwhelming performances he was forced to warm the bench. But the opener came back and scored his maiden half-century of the season and would want another good knock.
Warner has mostly carried the Delhi batting with the likes of Mitchell Marsh, Phil Salt and Rilee Rossouw showcasing their batting prowess in some games.
The bowling unit has eked out most of Delhi’s wins with the spin duo of Axar and Kuldeep Yadav doing a remarkable job.
Old warhorse Ishant Sharma has been invaluable, handed the ball in crunch situations, the veteran pacer kept his calm and won the matches against Gujarat Titans and Punjab. However, he hasn’t provided too many breakthroughs despite being accurate on most occasions.
After leaking runs in the initial games, Anrich Nortje has also found his groove while Khaleel Ahmed has also been impactful on occasions and profligate at other times.
Delhi’s fielding against Punjab was atrocious, dropping as many as four catches that almost cost them the match. Come Saturday, the hosts will need to put up a much better display.