Sunrisers skipper Williamson will need teammates to stand up and be counted
If Chennai Super Kings’ consistency over the past six weeks of the Vivo-IPL-11 is anything to go by, the six-time finalist and two-time winner should start favourite to win Qualifier-1 against Sunrisers Hyderabad here on Tuesday.
- The loser gets another opportunity in Qualifier-2 on May 25 at the Eden Gardens
Only a fractional arithmetic difference in net run rate prevented the team in blazing yellow from taking the top slot in the points table.
It got the better of SRH in the first encounter by a mere four runs, but won the ‘home’ match at Pune hands down.
So the psychological advantage remains with the team that has been shepherded well by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who has won 87 matches for his first and favourite team in the league.
The legion of Chennai fans would be tempted to put down their team’s performance as remarkable.
It returned to the league after a two-year absence and more significantly was forced to change its home ground following the Cauvery water dispute after winning its second match against Kolkata Knight Riders at the MAC Stadium on April 10.
Winning five matches in the first half of the league it gave ample evidence of its ambition and at no stage gave the impression of faltering to be pushed to the lower half of the points table.
It lost five matches, but not even once two in a row.
After retaining its core team in Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja, CSK used the right to match option to keep Dwayne Bravo. It also made smart decisions in buying Ambati Rayudu and Shane Watson.
Their brilliant displays have contributed in good measure to the team’s success.
Rayudu at his best
Rayudu has enjoyed his best outing in nine seasons, amassing 586 runs with a century to boot against Sunrisers. Watson, meanwhile, has scored 438.
Together they have made 403 for the first wicket.
Dhoni and Suresh Raina have also played their part with the bat. Having bagged 79 wickets, with Lungi Ngidi being the most economical (nine wickets at 12.22), CSK has the wherewithal to work on the Wankhede pitch.
For Sunrisers, it has virtually been a one-man show in captain Kane Williamson showing the hallmark of a professional and leading by example scoring 661 runs.
Sunrisers have captured 77 wickets with seamer Siddharth Kaul taking 17 and spinners Rashid Khan 16 and Shakib Al Hasan 13.
The former champion appears to have lost some momentum, having lost its last three matches.
But, no matter what happens here, the loser gets another opportunity in Qualifier-2 at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata on May 25.