Thursday’s IPL clash in Sharjah will feature teams that sit on the extreme ends of the points table. Table topper Chennai Super Kings takes on the bottom-placed Sunrisers Hyderabad.
CSK has form on its side. And would like to maintain its winning momentum going into the play-off stage. Sunrisers, which finally managed to break the sequence of defeats by overcoming Rajasthan Royals, will want to put the missing pieces together even if it is rather late in the day.
CSK’s opening pair of the fleet-footed Ruturaj Gaikwad and the innovative Faf du Plessis have provided blazing starts, built solid platforms. Moeen Ali is a free-stroking batter at No. 3 and both Ambati Rayudu and southpaw Suresh Raina can sizzle in the middle-order. Then you have left-arm spinning all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who not only contains and strikes, but can swing games with the willow too.
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CSK, though, will be seeking runs from skipper M.S. Dhoni who appears out of touch since he plays virtually no cricket outside of IPL.
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And left-arm seaming all-rounder Sam Curran is leaking runs. The sooner the canny Dwayne Bravo, recovering from niggles, returns, the better it will be for CSK.
For Sunrisers, aggressive opener Jason Roy, replacing out-of-form David Warner, impressed against RR. And paceman Siddharth Kaul bowled with verve at the death against Rajasthan.
The contest will be a match-up between two wily captains, Dhoni and Kane Williamson. And Sunrisers’ gifted leg-spinner Rashid Khan might have an influential role to play.