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Qualifier-1: CSK Vs SRH, Wankhede Stadium, 07:00 p.m., 22nd May

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 • Tamil Comments

CSK bids to beat SRH to make a direct entry into Sunday’s finals

The second and final stage of the on-going cricket carnival – the 2018 edition of the annual Indian Premier League (IPL) – is to commence on Tuesday (22nd May).  The first of the two 'Qualifiers' would see the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings (CSK), one of the most favourite teams to win this year’s tourney, taking on the Kane Williamson-led Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the match to be played at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai which starts an hour ahead at 07:00 p.m.

The equation is simpler now, unlike the complicated points-table, the net run rate and the win-loss record of each of the eight teams during the league stages.  The team winning the Tuesday encounter would storm into the finals to be played on Sunday at the historic Wankhede Stadium whereas the 'lucky loser' would earn another shot at getting an opportunity to play the Sunday's final by clashing with the winning team (on Friday) from the ‘Qualifier-2’ to be played out on Wednesday between the third and fourth placed teams in the points table: between Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals.

The only advantage of 'losing' the first of the play-off matches is that the losing team is not knocked out of the tournament but gets to play the winner of the other qualifier.  Given a chance, both CSK and SRH would be hoping against hope that they get only to play two games from now onwards (tomorrow’s match and the Sunday’s finals) and not another match on Friday as it might sap the players of the much-needed energy ahead of the grand Sunday finals.

SRH and CSK have found contrasting ways to reach the first and second positions on the points table.  Both the teams have 18 points apiece but SRH is placed first thanks to a marginally better net run rate it has than CSK.  SRH’s confidence going into Tuesday’s match won't be sky-high as it had lost three successive matches in a row prior to the ‘Qualifier-1’ clash while CSK has a win-loss-win record alternating its last seven matches!

That SRH lost both its league matches against CSK is far from encouraging but the team, which has India regulars such as Shikhar Dhawan, Manish Pandey and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar in its ranks, hopes to do well on Tuesday, putting in the back-burner what had happened to it during the past 10 days.  On the other hand, CSK’s confidence is high as it won a tough match against Kings’ XI Punjab (KXIP) during its last league match on Sunday with a clinical display of fast bowling and methodical batting.

Dhoni’s ply of sending Harbhajan Singh and Deepak Chahar ahead of himself, Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo turned out to be a master stroke as the bowlers (considered as ‘tail-enders’) blasted 58 crucial runs in between them in just 34 balls.  Typical of ‘thinking’ differently while out-thinking the opposing captains for many years now, Dhoni would surely have a plan or two to control the marauding batting duo of Shikhar Dhawan and Kane Williamson, who have been major batsmen for SRH.

Shane Watson, rested for Sunday's match against KXIP, might take his position again at the top to open the innings with Ambati Rayudu, whose only failure came on Sunday due to a 'peach of a delivery' he faced from Ankit Rajpoot, who also bamboozled Sam Billings with another beauty.  Raina, Dhoni, Billings, Bravo, Jadeja, Harbhajan and Deepak would be the next to follow as CSK may not disturb the winning combo for Tuesday’s match.  Bravo’s return to wicket-taking ways might have gladdened the hearts of millions of CSK supporters.

Dhawan’s clash opposite Ngidi, Deepak Chahar and Jadeja and Shane Watson’s handling of Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Siddharth Kaul might reveal the course of the match's result!

Players to watch out for:

CSK: Watson, Rayudu, Dhoni, Deepak Chahar, Ngidi
SRH: Dhawan, Williamson, Siddharth Kaul, Shakib Al-Hasan, Carlos Brathwite

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