After a 16-run defeat in Sharjah earlier this week, against Rajasthan Royals, a loss that hugely centred around MS Dhoni's batting position in the lineup, it will be interesting to see where Chennai Super Kings or the captain himself will slot in when the team is up against Delhi Capitals at the Dubai International Stadium on Friday for their third game in the ongoing IPL 2020 in the UAE.
A poor show by the spinners and a disastrous 20th over that saw Jofra Archer smash four sixes of two (legal) deliveries helped Rajasthan set up a 200-plus total against Chennai. Like in their opener, Dhoni once again promoted the likes of Sam Curran and Ruturaj Gaikwad ahead of him leaving an experienced Faf du Plessis with much of the work to do. Dhoni stepped in at No.7 and failed to get going against the pace of Archer, but started firing after medium-pacer Tom Curran came in to bowl the final over where the CSK captain launced three sixes.
In Dubai, the ground is bigger and Dhoni could look to take singles in a bid to settle down before firing.
For Delhi, they had defeated Kings XI Punjab in their opener last week, but had suffered a huge blow as Ravichandran Ashwin, who had taken two crucial wickets in the only over he had bowled in that game, had walked out with a freak shoulder injury. It hence be crucial to see if the veteran offie makes a comeback to face his old club.
"We will take a call on Ashwin after today's practice session. He is coming for training. Our physio Patrick Farhart will take a final call," DC fielding coach Mohammed Kaif said in a pre-match presser.
Senior spinner Amit Mishra could be an option to partner Axar Patel in case Ashwin is unable to make it.
"It's a good thing that we have a ready replacement like Amit Mishra, who has a lot of experience," Kaif said about IPL's second highest wicket-taker.
The cushion of bigger boundaries can always help a wrist spinner attack more by tossing the ball up.
Another aspect will be pacer Mohit Sharma's performance. While Mohit got KL Rahul at the beginning but his loose deliveries at the back-end made things difficult for the Capitals even as Kagiso Rabada bowled tightly at one end.
Against a side like CSK which revels in attacking the last 10 overs, the Capitals might like to try Harshal Patel, who is also a handy batsman at any number having opened in domestic cricket.
This is if Ishant Sharma, who is still nursing an ankle injury is available.
"Ishant had a good run yesterday but didn't bowl. He will be again training today and then we will take a call," said Kaif.
Anrich Nortje in his first IPL game wasn't bad but left-armer Daniel Sams could create those awkward angles that batsmen dislike.
Talking of big hitters, Delhi has one too many in their line-up including Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, skipper Shreyas Iyer and last match's hero Marcus Stoinis, who would like to throw up an open challenge for Piyush Chawla and Ravindra Jadeja, who had a forgettable last outing.
Chennai Super Kings: Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (captain, wk), 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.
Delhi Capitals: Shreyas Iyer (c), Ravichandran Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Shimron Hetmyer, Kagiso Rabada, Ajinkya Rahane, Amit Mishra, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ishant Sharma, Axar Patel, Sandeep Lamichhane, Keemo Paul, Daniel Sams, Mohit Sharma, Anrich Nortje, Alex Carey (wk), Avesh Khan, Tushar Deshpande, Harshal Patel, Marcus Stoinis, Lalit Yadav.
(with PTI inputs)