It wouldn't be too accurate to call it a derby, but when Chennai Super Kings take on Sunrisers Hyderabad at the JSCA International Stadium in Ranchi on Thursday (September 26) in a Champions League Twenty20 2013 encounter, there will be a semblance of an Indian derby. Both teams have momentum gained from victories, both have capable match-winners and in-form players, and with the top spot in Group B there for the taking, both would be keen to take a giant stride towards qualification.
Given that they are based in Ranchi, Chennai hold a bit of an advantage. Following their four-wicket win against Titans on Sunday, they've had time to put up their feet, take a nap, and recover from any strain sustained during that match. Hyderabad, meanwhile, played Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday in Mohali, winning by four wickets, and then made the trip to Ranchi the following day. They opted to have optional practice on the eve of the match, while Chennai went through a full net session.
Chennai will be pleased with how their batting came good in the victory over Titans. Chasing a massive 186, an 89-run second-wicket stand between Mike Hussey and Suresh Raina set the foundation, with 65 amassed in the first five overs. Without much of a need to hurry, Dwayne Bravo and S Badrinath took them closer to victory with a stand of 58, and despite a slightly worrying mini-implosion towards the end, where Chennai lost three wickets for 11, they managed to cross the line.
The bowling, though, had room to improve. While it was acknowledged that dew was a factor, the bowlers never really threatened. Mohit Sharma and Jason Holder did well in the early stages, but the spinners sent down far too many loose deliveries, and it played right into the hands of AB de Villiers, who was in the mood to smash everything. Ravindra Jadeja was at the top of Chennai's list of those who needed to improve, following a poor day with both bat and ball - he returned figures of 1 for 49, and was dismissed for a two-ball duck.
Against Hyderabad, Chennai will have to face the significant threat of Dale Steyn. The battle between Steyn and Hussey, and indeed the rest of the Chennai's batting wealth, is sure to be a sight to watch, although Steyn was far from his commanding best against T&T. He dismissed Lendl Simmons with the very first ball of the day, but was then taken for 41 runs. A player of his quality doesn't make a habit of poor performances though, and Chennai will hope he doesn't come good against them.
Thisara Perera, if he continues on current form, will be another one to watch out. Against T&T, he came in at No.5 and smashed what proved to be a decisive 32-ball 57. It was an exhibition of violent, powerful batting and it helped Hyderabad win with just three balls remaining. It was the sort of batting tailor-made for Twenty20 cricket and it will hold them in good stead against Chennai. That apart, Perera was impressive with the ball as well, finishing with 2 for 26.
Shikhar Dhawan, the captain, would also be an integral part of the Hyderabad's plans, as well as Chennai's. Once he gets into the groove, it's usually hard to stop him, and a similar performance from the Chennai bowlers as the one they put in against Titans will surely be punished. Against T&T, Dhawan looked the part with some fabulous strokes, including a particularly meaty six off Samuel Badree, until he was deceived by a slower ball from Navin Stewart.
What could work in Hyderabad's favour is the fact that they've played four matches to Chennai's one, given their endeavours in the qualifying phase of the tournament.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Chennai skipper, and Dhawan will both keep an eye on the sky ahead of toss, as rain could be a factor. There was a brief shower on the eve of the game, and there were ominous clouds that hinted at the possibility of more rain.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (capt/wk), R Ashwin, S Badrinath, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Jason Holder, Mike Hussey, Imtiaz Ahmed, Ravindra Jadeja, Albie Morkel, Chris Morris, Suresh Raina, Wriddhiman Saha, Mohit Sharma, Murali Vijay.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Shikhar Dhawan (capt), Parthiv Patel (wk), JP Duminy, Biplab Samantray, Thisara Perera, Darren Sammy, Ashish Reddy, Karan Sharma, Amit Mishra, Dale Steyn, Ishant Sharma, G Hanuma Vihari, Cameron White, Clint McKay, Anand Rajan.