Down at the seventh position with just two wins and five losses from seven games in IPL 2020, Chennai Super Kings need to win most of their remaining matches to stay in contention for a play-offs berth. On current form, though, CSK’s unique record of having made it to the play-offs in every edition that they have featured in seems to be in real danger.
CSK’s opponents on Tuesday at Dubai, Sunrisers Hyderabad, have fared better, but only by a slight margin. They have six points with three wins and four losses from seven matches. SRH have failed to grab all opportunities presented to them before the tournament.
The consistency of both CSK and SRH will be put to test at Dubai. With the two struggling teams trying to regain lost ground, here’s a look at three player battles which could have a major impact on the outcome of the match.
#1. Shane Watson vs T. Natarajan
After a poor start to IPL 2020, Shane Watson has lifted himself up well. He smashed an unbeaten 83 to sink Kings XI Punjab in a near-perfect chase, and then added another half-century in a losing cause against Kolkata Knight Riders. Chennai, in fact, have been heavily dependent on Watson and Faf du Plessis in the batting department.
On Tuesday, it will be imperative for Watson to get the team off to a good start. After all, if he gets his eye in, Watson is capable of destroying any opposition.
T. Natarajan has proved to be an unlikely hero for SRH this season. The left-arm seamer has got his yorkers right, and has contained the flow of runs in the death overs. Natarajan has seven wickets to his name in as many matches at an economy rate of under 8. He was especially impressive in the match against KXIP with figures of 2 for 24.
Being a left-arm seamer, Natarajan can make life difficult for Watson with the awkward angles that he can produce. Watson is prone to chopping the ball onto the stumps, and the SRH seamer might look to exploit this weakness of the CSK opener.
#2. David Warner vs Deepak Chahar
SRH captain David Warner has been among the runs in IPL 2020. But he has been nowhere near his fluent best. Even in games where he spent a decent amount of time at the crease, he has never really been able to break free like he used to.
Although Warner has notched up 275 runs in seven innings with two fifties, the telling factor here is that the dashing left-hander’s strike rate has been 125. Warner must take the attack to the opposition camp because that is when he is at his most dangerous.
As for Deepak Chahar, he has been Chennai’s most consistent bowler, even as the others have blown hot and cold. The medium pacer has stuck to a stringent line and length.
Unfortunately, Chahar doesn’t have the numbers to back up his performance as he has only claimed six wickets in seven games. His economy rate has been under eight though, and he hasn’t allowed batsmen to go after him. One of Chahar’s challenges against SRH will be to not give Warner any room to open up and thus force him to play false strokes.
#3. Ambati Rayudu vs Rashid Khan
Ambati Rayudu’s story has been a bit like David Warner in IPL 2020. He has been among the runs, and has spent a lot of time at the crease, but his effectiveness has been limited since he hasn’t been able to dominate the bowlers.
Rayudu unfortunately got injured after a match-winning effort in the opening game. He hasn’t looked in rhythm since his return. Rayudu scored 30 against KKR and 42 against RCB, but in neither innings did he ever look like taking the match away from the opposition.
SRH leggie Rashid Khan has had an excellent IPL 2020 so far. In seven games he has claimed 10 wickets at a strike rate of 16.80 and an amazing economy rate of 5.03. Most teams have taken the safe route, and have played out Rashid. Batting in the middle overs, Rayudu is most likely to come face-to-face with the talented leggie.
Common sense and cricketing logic state that Rayudu too should take the cautious route against Rashid. But, as Rahul Tewatia proved in the last game, if one is willing to take risks, Rashid too can be taken for runs. Does Rayudu have the heart to take on the challenge?Published 13 Oct 2020, 14:46 IST