IPL 2018 Qualifier 1: Sunrisers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings’ strengths and weaknesses
Kane Williamson’s Sunrisers Hyderabad face MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings in the first IPL 2018 Qualifier at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday, with the winner gaining direct entry into the final.cricket Updated: May 21, 2018 18:53 IST
An intriguing battle is on the cards when Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) clash with Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the 2018 Indian Premier League (IPL) Qualifier 1 at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday.
The winner of this match will enter the final while the loser will have to play Qualifier 2 in Kolkata on May 25 (Friday).
Here’s a look at SRH and CSK’s strengths and weaknesses -
Rashid Khan key
The leg-spinner from Afghanistan has bowled 100-plus dot balls, the most by a spinner in this edition and the 2016 IPL champions will expect him to lead their charge once again. SRH will hope that he strikes early and sets up the match for them.
SRH will depend on their top-three batsmen, Shikhar Dhawan, Alex Hales and Kane Williamson, to give them the launch pad. Each time either of Dhawan or Williamson has batted deep, the Sunrisers have more often than not emerged victorious. Hales’ job will be to give them a brisk start which allows Dhawan to settle in.
While their bowlers have been inconsistent in recent games, they have enough variety in their attack to trouble CSK. Bhuvneshwar is very good in the initial and death overs. Siddarth Kaul and Sandeep Sharma are proven performers and they also have back-up bowlers to chip in.
Barring a couple of innings, none of their middle-order batsmen have come up with the goods when it mattered. Manish Pandey has struggled, Yusuf Pathan can no more produce those big hits on consistent basis and that has left SRH struggling in the death overs.
Fielding an issue
In a tournament that has seen some excellent fielding, SRH have come up short. Whether it’s catching or stopping ones-and-twos, they lag behind the other teams in the playoffs and that might prove costly if they repeat the same mistakes in Qualifier 1.
If past few matches are an indicator, Sunrisers have struggled to stop the flow of runs in death overs. With Rashid Khan and Shakib Al Hasan bowling tight overs in the middle, the opposition have targeted their seamers and have been successful in hitting them out of the park.
Chennai Super Kings
They have one of the best opening combinations in this edition in the form of Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu. Overall, they have scored 1000-plus runs between them and hit more than 50 sixes to force the opposition into submission.
MS Dhoni’s midas touch
After struggling with the bat in last couple of seasons, MS Dhoni’s swagger is back in this edition of IPL and he has led Chennai Super Kings to some thrilling wins when the chips have been down, launching those big hits to get them out of trouble and record thrilling last-over wins.
Bravo’s all-round show
Like Dhoni, Dwayne Bravo has been one of the inspirational performers for the Super Kings whether it’s with the ball or bat. He has often been Dhoni’s go to man in death overs and has also played some key innings with the bat which have guided them to victory.
Dhoni will be concerned with his bowlers leaking too many runs in the last few overs. Lack of options has seen Dhoni handing over the ball to different bowlers in the death overs as the tournament has progressed with Bravo being the only consistent performer while others have struggled.
Whenever Watson and Rayudu have fallen cheaply, CSK’s middle-order hasn’t shown the ability to withstand the pressure and in the end has left too much for Dhoni to do on his own. While Suresh Raina has done well in patches, his strike rate hasn’t been great. Sam Billings, too, barring a match-winning knock against Kolkata Knight Riders, hasn’t had much of an impact.
CSK have proven performers in Harbhajan Singh and Ravindra Jadeja and both have done well in containing the opposition but haven’t been among the wickets. In a format where taking wickets is key, the two-time IPL champions will hope that they strike in crunch situations.
First Published: May 21, 2018 18:21 IST