Chennai lost to the Deccan Chargers on Saturday but they will remain in the hunt for the semifinals.
They have a strong wind blowing in their favour. In the last few matches, Chennai have won against fancied teams like the Mumbai Indians, the Bangalore Royal Challengers and the Rajasthan Royals. And all of them have been at Chepauk.
There’s an old saying that foreign teams must play in Chennai first when they land in India. The extreme conditions at the venue can squeeze dry the fittest. Dean Jones’s dehydration in the 80s is the famous instance.
It’s April now and the conditions have only gotten hotter. A sample of it came in the match against the Mumbai Indians. The leaders of the pack looked on course under lights. But, after a while, cramps got hold of Sachin Tendulkar. The little man, who has been an epitome of fitness in this IPL, succumbed to the heat. By the time he came back, the match was lost.
Visiting teams could just say, the matches are being played under lights and it’s only a T20 game. But when the margin of error is so thin a draining of energy is never far away.
It’s just not the conditions. M.S. Dhoni’s men are running into form too. Murali Vijay’s form has been a revelation and the addition of Doug Bollinger is good news. Muttiah Muralitharan, Shadab Jakati and R. Ashwin in the spin block, Dhoni, Matthew Hayden, Suresh Raina and Michael Hussey in the batting corner and a competent pace pack of Bollinger, Albie Morkel, Thilan Thushara and Sudeep Tyagi presents an airtight outfit. Justin Kemp has recovered too.
The remaining two Chennai games are against the Delhi Daredevils and the Kolkata Knight Riders over the next four days. You could be sure these two teams must be sweating over the venue.