With the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League at the halfway mark, time seems to run out for Chennai Super Kings, who on every other IPL season found themselves in the top half of the points table by this far en route to their playoffs qualification. But poor batting, as admitted by captain MS Dhoni, has let them down, leaving them in the bottom end of the table with just two wins from seven matches. They will be up against a topsy-turvy Sunrisers Hyderabad, who as well, are looking for resurrection at the end of seven games.
CSK have been the most successful teams in IPL history, making it to the playoffs in each of their IPL appearances, while winning the trophy thrice. However, in 2020, CSK have struggled in one phase which they have excelled impressively in the past - chasing, especially in the presence of a mastermind like Dhoni. Taking the game deep and attacking the weak bowlers has been key in CSK's chases with Dhoni being its pioneer. But the code has being cracked with CSK devoid of a plan B.
While Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu have been fairly decent at the top of the order, Chennai need a decent middle-order batsman to arrest the rapid fall of wickets in the middle overs.
Dhoni himself has not been able to force the pace while chasing and the skipper had no qualms in admitting the flaws in his batting department.
"Batting has been bit of a worry. We need to do something about it," Dhoni had said.
"I think we are better off playing the other way round - play the big shots and even if you get out, it is fine because we can't leave too many after the 15th or the 16th over. That just puts too much pressure on the lower order batsmen."
On the bowling front, Deepak Chahar and Jadeja were impressive the other night and Bravo's return was a welcome relief but the likes of Curran, Shardul Thakur and Karn Sharma need to pull up their performances.
The tie also provides Dhoni and Co. a chance to avenge their seven-run loss to SRH in their previous outing.
SRH, on the other hand, are only a tad better-placed than CSK at the fifth spot with three wins from seven games.
But the five-wicket defeat to Rajasthan Royals on Sunday would be hurting the Hyderabad outfit badly as at one stage, they looked in complete control after posting a competitive 158 for 4.
Batting has not been SRH's concern at all as the likes of Jonny Bairstow, skipper David Warner, Manish Pandey and Kane Williamson are all among runs and have the ability to shoulder the responsibility on their own.
But it is the bowling unit which let SRH down on Sunday.
Despite losing senior pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and all-rounder Mitchell Marsh to injuries, SRH have shown tremendous fighting abilities with Rashid Khan and yorker specialist T Natarajan doing the job for the side.
But on Sunday SRH let Royals off the hook in the middle overs after reducing them to 78 for 5.
The likes of Sandeep Sharma, Khaleel Ahmed and young Abhishek Sharma are the weak links in bowling which they need to address.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (C), M Vijay, Ambati Rayudu, Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, Kedar Jadhav, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Lungi Ngidi, Deepak Chahar, Piyush Chawla, Imran Tahir, Mitchell Santner, Josh Hazlewood, Shardul Thakur, Sam Curran, N Jagadeesan, KM Asif, Monu Kumar, R Sai Kishore, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Karn Sharma.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner (C), Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Shreevats Goswami, Virat Singh, Priyam Garg, Wriddhiman Saha, Abdul Samad, Vijay Shankar, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Jason Holder, Abhishek Sharma, B Sandeep, Sanjay Yadav, Fabian Allen, Prithvi Raj Yarra, Khaleel Ahmed, Sandeep Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem, Siddharth Kaul, Billy Stanlake, T Natarajan, Basil Thampi.
Match starts at 7.30pm (IST).
(with PTI inputs)