IPL playoffs: CSK holds edge over SRH

Only a fractional arithmetical difference in the net run-rate prevented the team in blazing yellows from taking the top slot in the points table

CSK got the better of SRH in the first encounter by mere four runs, but won the 'home’ match at Gahunje hands down.   -  PTI

If the steady and consistent display of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the past six weeks of the IPL 11 is anything to go by, the six-time finalist and two-time winner of the league should start as the favourite to win the qualifier 1-playoff against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), here, on Tuesday.

Only a fractional arithmetical difference in the net run-rate prevented the team in blazing yellows from taking the top slot in the points table. It got the better of its Southern neighbours in the first encounter by mere four runs, but won the 'home’ match at Gahunje hands down. So, the psychological upper hand remains with the team that has been shepherded remarkably well by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who has won 87 matches for his first and favourite team in the league.

 

The legion of the Chennai fans would be tempted to put down their team’s performance as remarkable for the sheer fact that it has returned to the league after a two-year absence, and more significantly because of being forced to change its home ground following the Cauvery water dispute after winning its second match against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at the MAC Stadium on April 10.

 

Winning five matches in the first half of the league, it gave ample evidence of its ambition to advance to the business end of the league and at no stage — though it was as vulnerable as any other top team to fall by the wayside on occasions — it never gave the impression of faltering to be pushed to the lower half of the points table. It lost five matches, but not even once two in a row.

READ: CSK revels in Dhoni's 'chaos' theory

After retaining the core team of its dominating years in Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja,  CSK used the right to match option to keep Dwayne Bravo, but at the big auction it made smart decisions to buy Ambati Rayudu and Shane Watson, and it has been their brilliant displays that have largely contributed to team’s success.

Playing his ninth season, Rayudu has enjoyed his best outing, amassing 586 runs with a century to boot against the Sunrisers, while Watson scored 438; and together they have made 403 for the first wicket. Dhoni and Suresh Raina have also played their part with the bat. Having bagged 79 wickets, with Lungi Ngidi being the most economical taking nine wickets at 12.22, CSK has the wherewithal to work on the Wankhede pitch.

For the Sunrisers, it has virtually been a one-man show, with captain Kane Williamson showing the hallmark of a professional and leading by example scoring 661 runs. The Sunrisers have taken 77 wickets with seamer Siddharth Kaul taking 17 and spinners Rashid Khan 16 and Shakib Al Hasan, 13. The former champion appears to have lost momentum, losing its last three matches, but the outcome of the match, here, would give the loser another opportunity to play the qualifier 2 at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata.