Two of the most consistent teams of the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) season — Sunrisers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings will square off in the first playoff — Qualifier 1 at the iconic Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday, May 22.
While Kane Williamson, in the absence of title-winning captain David Warner, has led the Sunrisers wonderfully well, MS Dhoni continued from where he left at the end of the 2015 season. Both teams finished the round-robin league stage tied on 18 points but the former held the top spot due to superior Net Run Rate.
However, the position on the table no more holds any significance as both teams would want to seal the final berth as early as on Tuesday. The winning team not only gets a direct ticket to the big match on Sunday, May 27 but also can avoid shuttling between Mumbai and Kolkata where the playoffs are being held.
CSK, despite finishing behind SRH, head into the match as favourites, given their recent form and their vast experience of thriving under pressure in knockout matches.
CSK vs SRH: A look at head-to-head records
- CSK have beaten their southern Indian rivals six times in eight meetings.
- The Chennai-based franchise got the better off Sunrisers twice in the ongoing season.
The Super Kings also are heading into the big match on Tuesday on the back of a dominant win over Kings XI Punjab on Sunday, May 20. On the other hand, the table-toppers, it seems, have lost their way in the lead up to the playoffs as they have three on the bounce, including an eight-wicket defeat to CSK in Pune on May 13.
Sunrisers' much-talked-about bowling line-up has faltered miserably in the recent past. While Siddharth Kaul, SRH's leading wicket-taker with 17 scalps, has been struggling to regain lost form, spearhead Bhuvneshwar has picked up only four wickets in his last seven matches for the Sunrisers.
On the Wankhede track that has traditionally offered decent assistance to fast bowlers, Williamson would certainly want his pacers to step up and deliver.
CSK have proved they are a dangerous team with the bat. The two-time champions have got the big runs and have effortlessly gunned down big totals in the season. The experienced campaigners in the batting unit will be more than happy to see off the likes of Rashid Khan and target the other bowlers in the SRH line-up.
Meanwhile, CSK bowlers, especially pacers, should be high on confidence after their near-perfect show against the Kings XI on Sunday. The likes of Lungi Ngidi and Deepak Chahar, with their pace and swing, are capable of posing a threat to Sunrisers top-order.
The onus to deliver for the Sunrisers will be on Kane Williamson and Shikhar Dhawan, their top-scores, but the middle order, which has been under-par, needs to step up if they are to avoid a trip to Kolkata.
Player to watch out for - Ambati Rayudu
Hyderabad's domestic captain, Rayudu has been in imperious form at the top for the Men in Yellow in the ongoing season. More so, he has been unstoppable against the Sunrisers in the ongoing season.
When the two teams met for the first time in Hyderabad, Rayudu set the stage on fire with a match-winning 37-ball 79.
In the reverse fixture, Rayudu's 62-ball 100 helped CSK gun down SRH's total of 179.
Team News - CSK vs SRH, IPL Playoff
The Super Kings had rested Shane Watson for the last league match on Sunday. The Australian opener, who is among their top-scorers, will return for the crucial outing. Faf du Plessis might just retain his place in the squad while England batsman Sam Billings might make his way out of the team.
CSK probable playing XI: MS Dhoni (C & wk), Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Harbhajan Singh, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Lungi Ngidi
On the other hand, Shreevats Goswami's quickfire knock against the Kolkata Knight Riders might keep Alex Hales out of the playing XI. Sunrisers may continue with Carlos Brathwaite in the middle-order as the West Indies big-hitter adds balance and depth to the squad.
SRH probable playing XI: Kane Williamson (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Shreevats Goswami (wk), Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Carlos Brathwaite, Shakib Al Hasan, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddharth Kaul.
Pitch and conditions
Scores of 170-plus have been scored at the Wankhede in the last few matches. However, pacers have always been able to enjoy the swing and the bounce at the iconic venue.
Meanwhile, no rain has been predicted for Tuesday evening. The Qualifier 1 will start at 7 pm IST.