IPL 5, Qualifier 2: Can Delhi Daredevils upset Chennai Super Kings for the final berth?
Winner of the second qualifier tonight between the consistent Delhi Daredevils and the defending champions Chennai Super Kings will take on the Kolkata Knight Riders in the final on Sunday.
Friday, May 25, 2012
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Virender Sehwag and Delhi Daredevils are in a familiar position. Like this year, they had utterly dominated the 2009 season, before their mighty batting line-up faltered in the semi-final, much like their flop against Kolkata Knight Riders on Tuesday. This time though, with the changed format, they get a second opportunity.
One of Daredevils' puzzling decisions in the game against Knight Riders was to send in Ross Taylor as low as No. 7, below even teenager Pawan Negi, who is in the side primarily as a left-arm spinner and isn't known for his batting exploits. TA Sekar, Daredevils' team mentor, said the team had reassessed its batting order the game; so Taylor can expect to bat at a more customary position on Friday.
Chennai Super Kings are also in a familiar position. Once again, they seem to be at their best in the final stages of the tournament. After several days of nervously watching other teams' results go their way, Super Kings looked unstoppable when they took apart Mumbai Indians on Wednesday.
They have always looked like the team with the greatest depth in their batting, and that was amply demonstrated against Mumbai Indians. Even after losing M Vijay and the IPL's highest run-scorer Suresh Raina as early as the second over, their crisis men Michael Hussey and S Badrinath stabilised the innings, before the flamboyance of MS Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo switched the innings mode from build to blast. Even without using the heavy-hitting of Albie Morkel, even against the bowling of Lasith Malinga, Super Kings ran up 187 and coasted to victory.
The trouble for Super Kings is that they need to bring their A game three times in five days, to beat each of other three playoff teams, if they are to make it a hat-trick of titles. They have done it once. Can they do it a second time on Friday?
(most recent first)
Chennai Super Kings: WLWWW
Delhi Daredevils: LWLWL
Players to watch
In five years of the IPL, Mahela Jayawardene is yet to win a playoff match. He's only had two chances: once in 2008, when Kings XI Punjab were thrashed by Super Kings, and then the defeat to Knight Riders earlier this week. In addition, his form this season hasn't matched the high standard expected of him. In successive World Cups, Jayawardene has shown his ability to lift his game for the big occasion, something Daredevils would love him to do over the next three days.
Ben Hilfenhaus has taken over from Doug Bollinger as Super Kings' Australian fast bowler of choice. He's played seven matches since his arrival from the West Indies, and hasn't gone wicketless even once. After Dwayne Smith clubbed a succession of boundaries off Hilfenhaus to steal a last-ball victory, Hilfenhaus showed his temperament by bouncing back with consecutive Man-of-the-Match performances. Besides the outswinger which serves him well even in the longer formats, he has a quick bouncer, an accurate yorker and he likes to bowl full and wide to stifle batsmen. He accounted for both Sehwag and David Warner in the last game against Daredevils. Can he do it again?
Super Kings don't like to tinker with their team composition, re-securing their core players even during the re-shuffle before the 2011 season. They have used only 17 players this year, the least by a franchise, showing how much they like a settled side. After Shadab Jakati's tight spell in the previous game with the new ball, expect him to retain his place. The only question for them is whether to retain M Vijay, or to pick S Anirudha if he is fit.
Daredevils will have to ponder whether to play an extra spinner in Chennai, or stick to their preferred pace-heavy attack. Irfan Pathan had injured his hand while attempting a return catch in the game against Knight Riders, but team mentor Sekar said Irfan was fit to play on Friday.
Meetings this season
Both encounters this season have been one-sided: Daredevils won by eight wickets at the Kotla after four run-outs undermined Super Kings, and less than two weeks ago Hilfenhaus ran through the Daredevils top order to set up a straightforward five-wicket victory at Chepauk.
Stats and trivia
Suresh Raina has scored only 341 runs this season, his lowest tally in any IPL
Morne Morkel is three wickets away from equalling Malinga's record of 28 wickets in an IPL season
For stats on Super Kings' spinners' struggles at home, click here
"We have a team that is better suited to the conditions in Chennai. We have seamers who are adequate but not startling." - Stephen Fleming, coach of the Chennai Super Kings, expects the Chepauk surface to help the spinners in the side
"Ross got a 21-ball fifty against Royal Challengers in Bangalore. He showed his class there and I think he is in a good space and I think he should fire tomorrow." - TA Sekar isn't too worried about Taylor's form