Anything but a dead rubber for CSK

Ahead of the DD tie, Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu and Suresh Raina were spotted at the Kotla nets even in the scorching heat; skipper M.S. Dhoni gave it a miss.

Chennai Super Kings batting coach Michael Hussey (left) with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni at the nets.   -  B. JOTHI RAMALINGAM

 

Chennai Super Kings has already qualified for the play-offs and is sitting pretty at second position. That didn't stop them from turning up for an optional practice session here on Thursday, under the scorching sun, ahead of a dead rubber against Delhi Daredevils.

While captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni gave it a miss, the likes of Suresh Raina, Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu didn't.

Rayudu and Watson have together set the platform for CSK with the former among the top-five scorers, and both having a century against their names.

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Dhoni himself has turned back the clock stunningly to not just finish off games with a flourish but manage an incredible average of 103.25 with a strike rate of 162.59. Others have chipped in with handy contributions as well.

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It is the team's bowling that has been a concern, batting coach Mike Hussey admitted, but has managed to get the work done as a unit. Shardul Thakur, Dwayne Bravo and Harbhajan Singh have been among wickets along with Ravindra Jadeja, who has surprisingly been used sparingly by Dhoni.

 

“One area we have really tried to work hard on is the death bowling. We haven't perfected that just yet, no questions on that. We have been chopping and changing, trying to look for the right combination and the best bowler at the death and things like that. It's been a work in progress and hopefully we are starting to get a clear idea of what combination is best for us,” Hussey said.

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He also admitted that fielding was not exactly a high point for the team. “One trade-off of having experienced players is having older players in the field. We will never be the most dynamic fielding team but we just need to be workman-like and be as smart as possible,” he said.

 

A win on Friday would ensure a top-two finish for CSK and a big margin might even see it overtake Sunrisers Hyderabad at the top of the table.

The only bright spot for DD has been the consistent performance of its young bats – Shreyas Iyer, Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant — and Abhishek Sharma in the previous game.

There is little at stake for the host at this point but a win in the penultimate game will see them bow out on a high.