Players of Chennai Super Kings seen during a practice session. Courtsey: Twitter
Mohammad Abdullah, Senior Sports Reporter
Table-toppers Chennai Super Kings (CSK) will look to consolidate their position on the table with a victory over rock-bottom Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in Sharjah on Thursday.
Chennai are sitting at the top of the standings with 16 points, having won eight of their ten matches. They are in stupendous form and have been unbeaten in the UAE leg of the tournament.
Chennai have notched up three victories on the trot to maintain their stranglehold on the summit.
They were engaged in a topsy-turvy battle with Delhi Capitals for the top spot before the latter’s loss against a resurgent Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) handed Chennai advantage as they have played one game lesser.
Chennai eked out a hard-fought win against Kolkata off the last ball in their last game. Chennai have good depth in batting.
The pair of Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis are doing pretty well in the opening slot.
Gaikwad played a match-winning knock against Mumbai. Du Plessis have scored three fifties so far. Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina consolidate the middle order.
Presence of the all-rounders Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo provide further depth in batting, coming at number seven and eight.
Bravo, who was dropped from the side despite an impressive performance to accommodate Australian Sam Curran, can make a comeback to the fold.
Curran had a bad outing as he conceded 56 runs in his four runs and scored just four runs as Chennai laboured to a victory against Kolkata, who are four places adrift of them.
Bravo smashed an 8-ball 23 against Mumbai in the first match to steer them to a fighting total after Trent Boult had rocked the top order.
He also took three wickets as Chennai registered a come-from-behind victory against Mumbai in their first match.
Bravo picked up another three wickets against Bangalore also and played a vital role in their victory.
On the other hand, a resurgent Sunrisers Hyderabad will look to dent the Chennai campaign. They are at the bottom of the table and are out of the contention for a play-off spot.
Hyderabad have lost eight out of their ten matches and have only 4 points in their kitty. They are playing in the tournament to salvage pride and have nothing to lose.
They started their second leg of the IPL in the UAE on a disappointing note, having lost both their opening matches, which ruled them out of the fray for a knock-out berth.
They spurned a golden chance against Punjab Kings at Sharjah to win the match after having bowled out their opponents for paltry 125.
Jason Holder was the only man who showed some courage against Punjab and took the match to the last ball.
But he also failed to convert his effort into a positive result and could not hit a six off the last ball to force the game into Super Over.
But Hyderabad put up winning performance again Rajasthan Royal in their last game and finally ended their losing streak. They drop former skipper David Warner from the playing 11 and brought in Jason Roy.
Roy smashed a quick-fire 50 in his first match of the season to give Hyderabad a good platform and set the tone for a successful chase.
Hyderabad had changed skipper in the middle of the tournament when the IPL came to an abrupt halt in India due to a spike in the coronavirus cases.
Hyderabad were one of the teams who were badly hurt by the pull-out of the players in the UAE leg of the IPL. Their reliable opener Johnny Bairstow refused to come to the UAE because of a 6-day quarantine rule.
Barely had the dust settled down, Hyderabad were hit by another major issue as their bowler Natrajan tested positive for coronavirus.
They were struggling to cope up with the Natrajan’s row, meanwhile Sherfane Rutherford had to leave to attend the funeral of his father.
After overcoming all the issues off and on the pitch Hyderabad regrouped themselves and put up a winning performance against Rajasthan but it was too late and the damage had been done.
Now what makes them a very dangerous customer is the fact that they have nothing to lose and are playing fearlessly and freely to salvage the pride.
It was the turn of Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) bowlers to get into the act after batsman Priyam Garg’s (51) stupendous fifty gave them a decent total to defend, and in the end, win a thriller of an Indian Premier League (IPL) match in Dubai by seven runs on Friday.
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