After a thrilling opening encounter that saw defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders steal a close victory against the Mumbai Indians, the Indian Premier League now moves on to Chennai.
Two-time champions Chennai Super Kings, led by Team India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, will take on the Delhi Daredevils at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in the south Indian city on April 9.
While Chennai have been consistent performers in the IPL, having finished among the final four during each of the previous seven editions, Delhi’s performances in the cash-rich T20 league have been topsy-turvy. Delhi finished at the bottom in IPL 2014 and this year, they will be looking to avoid throwing away close games and working on building a run of wins upfront in order to reach the playoffs.
The Fantasy Players
Undoubtedly, Delhi will spend most of their time trying to devise a clear strategy on how to get rid of Chennai’s swashbuckling opener Brendon McCullum. If McCullum gets going, he can exploit width from the new ball bowlers to full effect and the game can move away from the Daredevils very quickly. Moreover, the Delhi bowlers can expect little assistance from the flat Chennai track and those big sixes might be coming their way pretty early.
Although Delhi have rejigged their team quite a bit, the batting onus for them will lie solely on JP Duminy. The South African was Daredevils’ highest run-scorer last year, getting an impressive 410 runs at a strike rate of 134.42.
Most eyeballs during this match though will be on India’s Yuvraj Singh, who was grabbed by the Daredevils at the 2015 Players’ Auction for a whopping 2.67 million dollars. Although Yuvraj was left out of the Indian team during the recently concluded Cricket World Cup, he is known for his big hits and can also contribute plenty with his spin bowling. The IPL could be the perfect platform for the cancer survivor to get back in the Indian national team.
The Key Contests
Delhi’s experienced pace bowling double of Zaheer Khan and Mohammed Shami can prove to be a handful for Chennai’s explosive opening batsman McCullum. This can make up for a pretty exciting contest. Interestingly, Zaheer has got McCullum out 8 times in international cricket and has enough tricks in his bag to outsmart the Kiwi ODI captain. Shami, who bowled with enough venom in the 2015 World Cup, can also keep McCullum quiet for at least the initial part.
Chennai have a clear advantage over the Daredevils as far as the head-to-head record is concerned. These two have played 14 matches over the course of the IPL and CSK have won 10 of these. Better still, Chennai have not lost a match against Delhi during the last six times the teams have played each other.
Chennai skipper MS Dhoni is one of the most-experienced cricket captains of this age and he has led for a total of 185 T20 matches during his illustrious career. Dhoni has led the Indian team to three separate ICC trophies and he is the only captain to achieve this feat.
Duminy is all set to become the 8th player to lead Delhi. The side has earlier been led by the likes of Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Dinesh Karthik, James Hopes, Mahela Jayawardene, David Warner and Kevin Pietersen.
Interestingly, Yuvraj, who will play for Delhi this year, has scored most runs in the IPL against the very same side. Off the 1851 odd runs Yuvraj has amassed so far in the league, 342 have come against Delhi in 11 innings.
Who Will Win?
Our pick for this game will be the home team, Chennai. They are too strong for Delhi, who are building up a new side and look somewhat in disarray. Chennai’s captain cool Dhoni is an experienced customer as far as the T20 format of cricket is concerned and he doesn’t lose many. Moreover, Chennai’s batting is good enough to post a huge total in excess of 180 and also good enough to chase down most targets effectively.