Chennai Super Kings (CSK) has, rather emphatically, remained detached from its ‘last-minute crammer’ persona this year.
Its fans must have been most relieved for the team has, in the past, landed itself in last-gasp situations. Last year, CSK left its fate to be determined by other sides.
On Tuesday, standing at the doorstep of a playoff berth, CSK will meet Delhi Daredevils (DD) in its last home game.
There’s, however, some uncertainty surrounding the fixture after the structural soundness certificate of the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium was cancelled by the Public Works Department of Tamil Nadu late on Monday evening.
The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association is likely to move the court on Tuesday to obtain a stay against the order.
On the cricketing front, CSK, after a jerky beginning, zoomed to a seven-match winning streak: the utterly smooth route was quite a makeover for a team accustomed to sharp bends.
Some may have thought that a late-in-the-day choke was a possible hazard.
The Super Kings, having been jolted twice in the last three games, would want none of that.
The M.S. Dhoni-Stephen Fleming partnership — as astute as it gets — is unlikely to panic though.
It might help that the defeats have hit CSK now — where the glitches could be identified and remedied — than at a point of no return.
Logjam at the top
Normally, nine wins have been enough for a team to qualify for the playoffs.
This time, however, it hasn’t been as straightforward with bottom-placed sides losing many games.
The logjam on the points table has led to complex number-crunching; no team can afford to take its place in the top-four for granted.
A rounded CSK outfit would much rather hunt for victories in its remaining matches than obsess over fickle numerals.
Its death bowling has caused some unease but Jason Holder’s sharpness against Rajasthan Royals on Sunday would hearten the host.
Delhi, on the other hand, has crash-banged to one defeat after another.
Although DD has no stake in the playoff tussle, a win wouldn’t be a bad thing.
The Daredevils, punctured by injuries and spiritless performances, would also have to banish the horrific memories of last year’s defeat in the qualifier here, when a red-hot Morne Morkel was infamously dropped.
DD could provide some batting thrills with David Warner, who will captain the side in Mahela Jayawardena’s absence, and Virender Sehwag.
There will be some sky-gazing too as Chennai received a few showers on Monday and the forecast is for cloudy skies on Tuesday.
Chennai Super Kings: M S Dhoni (C), Akila Dananjaya, Albie Morkel, Srikkanta Anirutha, Ankit Rajpoot, Baba Aparajith, Ben Hilfenhaus, Ben Laughlin, Chris Morris, Dirk Nannes, Dwayne Bravo, Francois du Plessis, Imtiyaz Ahmed, Jason Holder, Michael Hussey, Mohit Sharma, Murali Vijay, Nuwan Kulasekara, R Karthikeyan, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ronit More, Shadab Jakati, S Badrinath, Suresh Raina, Vijay Shankar and Wridhiman Saha.
Delhi Daredevils: Mahela Jayawardane (C), Virender Sehwag, David Warner, Umesh Yadav, Manpreet Juneja, Ashish Nehra, Naman Ojha, Irfan Pathan, Andre Russell, Kedar Jadhav, Ajit Agarkar, Johan Botha, Unmukt Chand, Morne Morkel, Shahbaz Nadeem, Ben Rohrer, Royston Dias, Muralitharan Gautam, Sidharth Kaul, Jeevan Mendis, Yogesh Nagar, Sujeet Nayak, Pavan Negi, Aristh Singhvi, Roelof van der Merwe, Venugopal Rao and Gulam Bodi.