Host would hope Hilfenhaus separates Delhi's dangerous opening pair
As the league phase of IPL-V hurtles towards an explosive climax, the stakes are high for defending champion Chennai Super Kings.
Spectacular hitting under pressure by Albie Morkel and Anirudha Srikkanth salvaged a dramatic Thursday night for CSK against Rajasthan Royals at Jaipur after a major batting stumble. A crafty spell of swing and seam bowling from Ben Hilfenhaus had set up the game for the title holder.
CSK needs to get its act right in an important league game against the in-from Delhi Daredevils at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Saturday. Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men have 13 points from an equal number of matches and require at least two more victories from their remaining three games — the other two matches are against Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab (both away from home) — to enter the semifinals.
Another situation may emerge where CSK might need to win all three games to be certain of qualifying for the knockout stage.
The pacing of the innings has been a major problem area for CSK. There is plenty of depth and firepower in this line-up, but the batting has largely performed in fits and starts. The team would be hoping for its season's batting star Faf du Plessis to recover from indisposition.
Morne Morkel's pace, lift and seam movement could test the CSK top-order, which has suffered all season due to unstable opening combinations. Different pairings have been tried and the most successful one — du Plessis and S. Badrinath — was discontinued with in a debatable move. The Virender Sehwag-led Daredevils has dished out a fearless brand of cricket this season.
With nine wins from 12 games, the versatile side is almost through to the last four stage, but would not like to leave anything to chance.
The skipper has been in rousing form while pocket dynamo David Warner blew away the Deccan Chargers bowling with a thrill-a-minute unbeaten 109 on Thursday. This right-left opening combination can inflict plenty of damage.
The smooth-stroking Mahela Jayawardene offers both enterprise and solidity to the line-up; he can ease the ball through the gaps. Ross Taylor — he has incredible bat speed — is a heavyweight batting option Delhi has.
CSK could be temped to bring in a specialist spinner for paceman Yomahesh. To his credit, the man bowled capably on a surface that was a tad wet against Rajasthan Royals. The conditions will be different at Chepauk but Yomahesh might still be an asset to the side.
There could be some movement in the air because of the breeze from the Bay of Bengal, and Chennai would hope that swing bowler Hilfenhaus separates Daredevils' dangerous opening combination. Off-spinner R. Ashwin too could be employed with the new ball to prise out the left-handed Warner.
The CSK batting — searching for rhythm and consistency — could be probed by the Delhi pace attack, with the pacy Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron and Andre Russell (two of them could play) supporting Morkel. The multi-dimensional Irfan Pathan also lends left-arm variety.
CSK could target Daredevils' relative inexperience in spin. Will the visitors bring in South African left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe?