Preview: CSK outright favourites over depleted DD

In-form Michael Hussey and Suresh Raina will add to Chennai’s advantage AFP

By Jamie Alter

Chennai: May 11, 2011

Chennai Super Kings are back at home for two matches spread over a week which means they will have a big gap in action and given their unbeaten record at the M Chidambaram Stadium it gives them confidence of surging into the knockout round. Their opponents, Delhi Daredevils, have veered from both ends of the performance spectrum this season but without the man around whom most of their success evolved, Virender Sehwag, it seems an enormous task to beat CSK.

Sehwag has been ruled out of the remainder of the tournament due to the need for shoulder surgery, and in his absence James Hopes will lead the side. DD are out of the running for a spot in the final four and thus will play for some semblance of pride after what has been a disappointing season. Only Sehwag and David Warner have been able to provide batting firepower, and after a good start Venugopal Rao s form has tapered off in the latter half of the tournament.

DD have so far totally misused the explosiveness of Aaron Finch, batting him too low down the order. In Sehwag s absence DD have a chance to inject Finch into the top order, and a top three of Warner, Finch and Hopes is the team s best bet at ending the competition with some success.

CSK, after a slow start to their campaign, have gradually grown to resemble the unit which many hailed as pre-tournament favourites. The Australian pair of Michael Hussey and Doug Bollinger have brought much-needed stability and substance to the opening combinations of bat and ball, with Hussey especially effective considering an indifferent run of form from Murali Vijay. Subramaniam Badrinath has been a quiet accumulator of runs, lending the middle order solidity and firepower in a very unassuming manner. It is performers such as these who have built up CSK s success, with the odd innings of note from Vijay, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni.

CSK s strength is in the bowling where a phalanx of Twenty20 specialists has often choked up runs. Bollinger, Ravichandran Ashwin and Shadab Jakati are a formidable trio who have applied the pressure which has invariably led to the fall of wickets. Albie Morkel has been more successful with the ball than bat, and now that Dwayne Bravo has been added to the mix the CSK attack looks very well rounded.

Teams:

CSK (Probable): Murali Vijay, Michael Hussey, Suresh Raina, Subramanian Badrinath, MS Dhoni (c&wk), Srikkanth Anirudha, Albie Morkel, Dwayne Bravo, Shadab Jakati, Ravichandran Ashwin, Doug Bollinger.

DD (Probable): David Warner Aaron Finch, James Hopes (c), Naman Ojha (wk), Venugopal Rao, Irfan Pathan, Yogesh Nagar, Ajit Agarkar, Morne Morkel, Aavishkar Salvi.

Time: 20.00 local (14.30 GMT)

(Jamie Alter is a freelance cricket writer, having worked at ESPNcricinfo and All Sports Magazine. He is the author of two books, The History of World Cup Cricket and Field of Dreams: The Story of the Dr. DY Patil Sports Stadium. His twitter feed is @jamie_alter)