Durban:Depleted by star all-rounder Andrew Flintoff's pull-out due to injury and struggling with poor form, last year's runners-up Chennai Super Kings start unlikely underdogs against rampaging table-toppers Deccan Chargers in an Indian Premier League match here on Monday.
The Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Chennai side have won just one of their four matches so far, losing two while splitting points in their fourth game against Kolkata Knight Riders following a wash-out.
Deccan, on the other hand, have been simply unstoppable winning all three of their matches, riding mostly on their good batting led by in-form skipper Adam Gilchrist.
In contrast, Chennai have been surprisingly off-colour and the only win they have managed so far came against bottom-placed Royal Challengers Bangalore.
The pullout by Flintoff, costliest player on the IPL roster along with Kevin Pietersen, has only added to their woes.
Opener Matthew Hayden's good form and the fact that he is available for the entire tournament seems to be the lone highlight of Chennai's campaign so far.
The burly Australian, who retired from international cricket last year, is the leading scorer of the tournament having accumulated 166 runs in three matches, including two fifties, at a strike rate of over 171.
But the rest of the Chennai batting has not been able to back Hayden's form much as yet, quite evident in their loss to Delhi Daredevils.
Set 189 to win, Hayden's 57 and Suresh Raina's 41 were the only notable contributions for Chennai in their nine-run loss.
Dhoni, considered one of the best international skippers right now, has somehow failed to inspire the team and his lacklustre form with the bat has also become a concern.
On the other hand, last season's laggards Deccan have have completely turned it around under Gilchrist this year and much of it has been possible because of their in-form batting line-up.
Gilchrist himself have been in excellent touch and is fourth on the leading scorers list with 119 runs at a strike rate of 150.
South African Herschelle Gibbs and West Indian Dwayne Smith have ensured that Gilchrist's blazing run is complimented well at the top.
Add to this, pacer RP Singh and spinner Pragyan Ojha's good form with the ball and Deccan have become unexpected favourites against Chennai.