Calcutta: The last time they met, Sunrisers Hyderabad were thoroughly outplayed by Chennai Super Kings. In that IPL-VI match, in Hyderabad, on May 8 earlier this year, the Sunrisers couldn’t take any advantage of playing at home as they lost by 77 runs.
Almost four-and-a-half months have passed, but things haven’t changed much. So on Thursday, when the two teams square off in a CLT20 Group B encounter, here, the Super Kings will once again be the outright favourites.
To the Super Kings’ advantage, it’s sort of a ‘home’ match. Though Chennai and the Jharkhand capital are separated by more than 1500 kilometres, Ranchi’s fondness for Super Kings’ captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has ensured that his team feels at home while playing at the JSCA International Stadium.
But it’s not just because of Dhoni and Ranchi that the Super Kings wear the ‘favourites’ tag for Thursday’s match, it’s because of the firepower that they possess… The firepower that made them IPL champions in 2010 and 2011… The firepower that has taken them to IPL playoffs every single year that the tournament has been held.
The supermen of the Super Kings did their job pretty well in their CLT20 opener against the Titans. The South African team had set a 185-run target for the Dhonis. Keeping the format in mind, that was a stiff target. Not for the Super Kings though as they registered an easy six-wicket victory.
With a batting line-up that features Michael Hussey, Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina, Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo, no total is a safe total. Hussey looked in ominous form against the Titans, slamming a 26-ball 47. Raina matched Hussey with a 28-ball 47. Subramaniam Badrinath and Bravo, too, had important cameos that saw their team overhaul the target with seven balls to spare.
However, Dhoni is due for a special knock in front of his home crowd as he could manage just 7 in the match against the Titans. While batting gives them strength, it is the Super Kings’ bowling that would worry Dhoni. They do have an effective group of all-rounders in Ravindra Jadeja, Albie Morkel and Bravo, but there’s a lack of strike bowlers in the line-up. Mohit Sharma and Jason Holder looked ordinary the other night and may remain so on Thursday as well. A lot will then depend on Ravichandran Ashwin. The off-spinner has to take the lead to inspire his teammates to put up a better bowling show than they did against the Titans.
Interestingly, the Super Kings’ weakness is the Sunrisers’ strength. In Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma, they have two very good fast bowlers who are ideal candidates to give those crucial early breakthroughs. Then there will be Amit Mishra and Darren Sammy who can be very miserly and still pick up wickets.
Having said that, Steyn and Ishant didn’t look in rhythm against Trinidad and Tobago, together conceding 78 runs in 8 overs. They will, of course, have to do better.
Sunrisers’ batting will revolve around captain Shikhar Dhawan, Parthiv Patel and JP Duminy. But Thisara Perera does deserve a special mention after he top-scored with an unbeaten 57 in their last match.