Published On: Sat, Apr 21st, 2018

The best batting line-up v the best bowling line-up this IPL

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Loads of people were waiting for them. Others not so much. They’ve been at the centre of all the drama (including some that was unsavoury). They’ve got some pretty charismatic personalities. Perhaps when the IPL ends ( y’know, like all good things) Chennai Super Kings could keep the band together and go into the reality show business. For now though, they have some cricket to play. On Sunday, they’ll be up against the best bowling team in the tournament.

Sunrisers Hyderabad have conceded runs at only 7.54 per over this season, the best economy rate among all teams. With Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shakib Al Hasan as first-choice picks, that’s to be expected.

Super Kings won’t be afraid though. They know calculated hitting – as opposed to going after every ball – is clinging on to its three square inches on the T20 landscape. MS Dhoni has built his entire career on the idea and his team has bought into it unequivocally. With three wins from four games, and the best run rate (9.68) in this IPL, the plan is working.

In the news

  • Shikhar Dhawan retired hurt after being hit on his elbow on Thursday but the Sunrisers captain Kane Williamson said it wasn’t a serious injury.

  • Billy Stanlake missed that game with injury, and if he’s back to full fitness, Chris Jordan might have to move back to the bench.

  • Faf du Plessis came into the IPL carrying a couple of injuries, but with Shane Watson’s century in the last game, even if he is fully fit, he might not be able to break into the Super Kings XI

The likely XIs

Sunrisers Hyderabad: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Yusuf Pathan, 5 Manish Pandey, 6 Shakib Al Hasan, 7 Deepak Hooda, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Rashid Khan, 10 Siddharth Kaul, 11 Billy Stanlake

Chennai Super Kings: 1 Shane Watson, 2 Ambati Rayudu, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 5 Sam Billings, 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Deepak Chahar, 10 Imran Tahir, 11 Shardul Thakur

Strategy punt

Dhoni has lost his wicket to a legspinner three times in 19 deliveries this season. Additionally, the Super Kings captain has made only 11 runs against this type of bowling. So Rashid, over to you.

Stats that matter

  • Sunrisers’ weaker suit is their batting; their middle order the source of their problems. Nos. 4 to 7 have collectively averaged 23 since IPL 2015, placing them seventh out of 10 teams. With the inclusion of Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan this edition, they are contributing more runs, but their rate of scoring – 8.05 – is the slowest out of all the teams.

  • Shakib Al Hasan was perhaps bought with the specific reason to address that, and has every chance of coming good against Super Kings. He has made 85 runs off 60 deliveries against the current Super Kings bowlers and has been particularly severe on Dwayne Bravo, walloping 33 in 16.

  • The battle of the finishers: Dhoni has hit Bhuvneshwar Kumar for 81 runs in 41 balls in the IPL, without ever losing his wicket.

  • Another head-to-head to look out for: Harbhajan Singh has dismissed Manish Pandey four times in 10 innings and has given away only 64 runs in 64 balls.

Fantasy picks

Shikhar Dhawan. The pressure would have been on him to compensate for the loss of David Warner. And he’s done it with great success this season, especially in the Powerplay. He has hammered 73 runs in 47 balls at a strike rate of 155 and has fallen early only once. That’s pretty good bang for your buck.

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