Momentum, mindset and rhythm are all integral parts of the game, being paramount to the outcome of a contest. But when it comes to the knockout stage, teams do need to think beyond these at times. Because, anything and everything is possible in the knockouts.
Delhi Capitals and Chennai Super Kings will have to keep that in mind when they lock horns for the third time in IPL 2021 in Qualifier I, the first match of the play-offs round, at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.
For sure, both teams would be keen enough to win this game and book a ticket for the final, though not everything would be over for the losing side as it will again get one last chance in Qualifier II to try and feature in the decider.
Besides, with less than a fortnight to go for the main round of the T20 World Cup, the players selected for the showpiece event would also be concerned about keeping themselves sharp before resuming their national duties. In other words, this element should add even more intensity to the contest between two teams that finished in the top two of the league phase.
Going by recent form, though, it’s the Capitals who are better placed than the Super Kings who lost their last three league matches. Agreed, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his teammates had already qualified for the last four before those three straight defeats, but past results sometimes do tend to affect a team, especially before a crunch encounter.
For the record, the Capitals too lost their final league game versus Royal Challengers Bangalore, one that went down to the wire on Friday.
As for CSK, going the extra yard and doing something special for Dhoni could also act as motivation. Particularly, as the captain himself has expressed doubts about whether he would be available as a player in the next IPL.
Rishabh Pant PTI
Battle of quicks
Of the three venues, the wicket in Dubai does inspire the quicks a little more compared to the ones in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. Especially when teams have bowled first in Dubai, their pacers have certainly been able to get some purchase from the surface if they pitched it in the right areas and bowled the correct lengths.
Both Delhi and the Super Kings comprise in their line-ups quicks capable of having an impact on the game. Spearheading the Delhi attack, Anrich Nortje has delivered in almost every game, either by taking wickets or by strangulating the opposition batters with his impeccable line and length and variation of pace.
But the revelation for the Capitals has been young Avesh Khan, as barring that final over against RCB, he has been one of their standout bowlers with his yorkers and the slower ones. And then there’s Kagiso Rabada, who’s always a game-changer.
Deepak Chahar, Josh Hazlewood and the man with the golden arm, Shardul Thakur, though won’t be keeping the Super Kings too far behind, while they also have quality spinners in Ravindra Jadeja and Moeen Ali.
Relying on openers
Rishabh Pant and Co. too rely a fair bit on the performances of openers Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan. But the Super Kings have lately struggled a bit if Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis were dismissed early. Both Ruturaj and Faf have been a rock of CSK’s batting and how they fare will also be one of the determining factors of the game.
Points to note
⚫ Delhi have beaten Chennai in four of their last five meetings
⚫ Delhi have hit the fewest sixes — 54 — of all teams in this IPL. Chennai have hit the most — 100
⚫ Delhi Capitals vs Chennai Super Kings, Dubai (7.30pm IST)