Seven games into its IPL campaign, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) finds itself in an enviable position. Defying all pre-tournament predictions and clearly punching above its weight, the team is now in joint-second spot.

For SRH, success has largely been built on the collective effort of its bowling unit — Amit Mishra, Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma — as seen from the two sub-130 totals it has defended, and the individual brilliance of Thisara Perara as witnessed in the penultimate over heist against Kings XI Punjab. Not to forget Hanuma Vihari’s two Man-of the match efforts.

However, on Thursday when it takes on Chennai Super Kings (CSK), with which it shares the second spot, at Chepauk, the in-form Perera will have to sit out — Darren Sammy or Nathan McCullum is likely to replace him. With Kumar Sangakkara unavailable, Quinton de Kock’s not-so-encouraging displays (2 and 0) and Cameron White’s inconsistent shows, the brittle top-order clearly needs reinforcement.

And this has come in the form of Shikhar Dhawan’s return. The man who made a sensational 187 against Australia on Test debut is all set to play his first game of this edition.

Vijay’s form a worry

As for M.S. Dhoni in the match against Rajasthan Royals (RR), some of his prayers were answered — runs for Suresh Raina and a brisk start at the top. But Murali Vijay’s wobbly form (104 runs at 17.33), so far masked by Michael Hussey’s class, will continue to worry him.

The problem of bowling at the ‘death’ still plagues CSK. It leaked more than 50 runs in the last five overs in each of the last two home games against Pune Warriors and RR.

Dhoni will need to plug this hole for his team to consolidate after three wins on the trot.

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