Big picture: Can Delhi Capitals breach Chepauk fortress?
A campaign that seemed to have fizzled out even before taking off has suddenly found life. Delhi Capitals lost their first five games on the bounce, but have won four of five games after that and are now in with a shot of joining the mid-table jam in IPL 2023. Capitals are still placed last on the points table, but as things stand, there is only a three-point difference between them and third-placed Lucknow Super Giants.
To keep their chances alive, though, Capitals must first get past Chennai Super Kings, something they have failed to do more often than they have over the years. Capitals have beaten CSK in Chennai only on two occasions in eight attempts, the last being in 2010, and the head-to-head record is also skewed in CSK’s favour: they have won 17 of the 27 games over the years. CSK’s run at Chepauk this year, though, has been patchy. They have won three and lost two so far.
A big reason behind Capitals’ revival has been their spinners – Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel, mainly – who have restricted the opposition to sub-140 totals in three of their last five matches. Their spinners have been the most economical amongst all teams in the competition going at 6.9 an over, which might come in handy on a Chepauk surface that showed signs of slowing down last time around.
It won’t, however, be easy against a rampaging CSK top order, led by, Devon Conway (458 runs at a strike rate of 139.20), Ruturaj Gaikwad (384 at 148.26), Shivam Dube (290 at 156.75) and Ajinkya Rahane (245 at 181.48). They have the joint-best powerplay scoring rate of 9.5 this season, and have recorded 50-plus scores in eight out of ten innings in that phase this IPL.
CSK currently sit second on the points table with 13 points, and a win will push them closer to a playoff spot.
Team news: Will CSK field Stokes even if he’s fit?
Ben Stokes has been batting and bowling in the nets, but even if he is fit, it will be tough for CSK to slot him, considering their overseas players – Conway, Moeen Ali, Matheesha Pathirana and Maheesh Theekshana/Mitchell Santner – have been doing well. “I’m pretty sure Stokes is available for selection but it comes down to the balance of the squad” Mike Hussey, the CSK batting coach, said on the subject on the eve of the game.
And guess who has the best average and best strike rate of the CSK batters? Yup, MS Dhoni has 76 runs in 38 balls this season, his average is 76.00 (one dismissal in seven innings) and strike rate is 200.00.
Anrich Nortje had to fly back to South Africa following a personal emergency and missed Capitals’ last game and is unavailable for the game against CSK. Shane Watson, Capitals’ assistant coach, expects Nortje to return to the IPL for the back end of the tournament.
Form guide: Capitals look to make it three in three
Chennai Super Kings WNRLLW (last five matches, most recent first) Delhi Capitals WWLWW
Ambati Rayudu has consistently been CSK’s Impact Player this season, replacing one of the bowlers when they chase, and that trend is likely to continue. If they bat first, Rayudu will likely start, with Tushar Deshpande or Theekshana coming in as the sub in the second innings.
Capitals have followed a straightforward batter-for-bowler swap as far as the impact-sub rule is concerned. If they bat first, Ripal Patel or Sarfaraz Khan will likely start, with Ishant Sharma coming in the second innings, and vice-versa. Depending on the surface, Capitals might also look to bring in offspinner Lalit Yadav into the mix for a quick.
Capitals probable XII: 1 Phil Salt (wk), 2 David Warner (capt), 3 Mitchell Marsh 4 Rilee Rossouw, 5 Aman Hakim Khan, 6 Manish Pandey, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Ripal Patel/Sarfaraz Khan, 9 Khaleel Ahmed/Lalit Yadav, 10 Kuldeep Yadav, 11 Mukesh Kumar 12 Ishant Sharma
Numbers that matter: Warner vs Theekshana
Capitals have hit the least number of sixes in the tournament so far – 42.
Scores of 200 have been breached four times this season in Chennai in ten innings. The surface did show signs of slowing down last time, but there was not much turn on offer for the spinners. The surface should be better for batters in the night game and dew might also come into play. It has been cloudy in Chennai for the last few days, but rain isn’t forecast for Wednesday.