League position – 3
Matches – 14
Wins – 9
Losses – 5
Proven international performers have been key to Delhi’s strong run this season with Shikhar Dhawan and Kagiso Rabada playing their parts to guide an otherwise inexperienced squad to their first playoff appearance since 2012.
South African ace Rabada has been nothing short of sensational with the ball with the Purple Cap holder’s 25 wickets coming at a strike-rate of just 11.28. Dhawan has impressed with the bat after an indifferent start with the India opener nearing 500 runs in the edition on the back of five half-centuries.
It was this kind of experience that Delhi sorely lacked last season where their young squad showed only fleeting glimpses of their potential.
While there have been many factors for Delhi’s success this season, they have struggled at times to finish off games while chasing. This shortcoming comes mainly due to the inexperience of their young Indian core including Rishabh Pant and Prithvi Shaw.
It was most evident in their early-season clash against Kings XI Punjab when they collapsed dramatically to lose seven wickets for just eight runs. There have been several other occasional where they have stumbled across the finish line and that has reflected in Delhi’s net run-rate which is the lowest of all four teams to have qualified for the playoffs.
It has been a highly disappointing individual campaign for young Prithvi Shaw after his breakthrough year in international cricket. The right-handed opener is averaging just above 20 with the bat in the ongoing campaign with just one half-century to show from 14 innings.
Shaw’s ability has never been in question and the youngster now has a chance to bounce back into form just when the team needs it the most.
Delhi will go into the playoff battle severely handicapped by the absence of Kagiso Rabada who has now returned home. Without the South African’s wicket-taking abilities, Delhi could really struggle in the pace department. They will now hope that Trent Boult can take over the mantle from Rabada but the Kiwi stalwart could be rusty having featured just three times over the course of the season.
CHENNAI SUPER KINGS
League position – 2
Matches – 14
Wins – 9
Losses – 5
Experience and loads of it. Chennai’s squad is brimming with veteran campaigners who have done it all before on the big stage and continue to defy their ages in T20 cricket.
The 2019 campaign has proved to be no different with veterans such as Imran Tahir and Harbhajan Singh leading the line.
Their spin threat has been their calling card in the 2019 campaign with Tahir, Harbhajan and Ravindra Jadeja snaring 47 wickets between them.
You have to love Imran Tahir. At his age, playing with the same passion as ever. And still winning matches.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) May 1, 2019
It is with the bat that Chennai have struggled this season, with openers Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu failing to hit the heights of their 2018 showings. Skipper MS Dhoni is the glue which has held the batting department together with an average of over 122 but the rest of the unit has failed to fire on a consistent basis.
Both Watson and Rayudu are averaging less than 20 with the bat this season and that has increased the pressure on the rest of the batsmen. However, Faf du Plessis came out of his shell with 96 against Kings XI.
The defending champions will have the luxury of playing their Qualifier 1 battle on home soil at the Chepauk stadium. They will be the only team to have a home advantage in the play-offs and that could prove to be crucial given that the team has won all but one of the seven matches played at the venue this year.
Plus, featuring in Qualifier 1 gives CSK two shots at making the cut for the final – always a good thing.
While they do enjoy the home advantage, the fact that Chennai play host to Mumbai Indians is discomforting. Rohit Sharma and his men are the only team to beat CSK at the Chepauk in the current campaign and have enjoyed considerable success at the venue over the years. In seven clashes between the two sides at the venue, Mumbai have emerged on the winning side on five occasions.
Chennai will also have to make do without the services of batsman Kedar Jadhav, who picked up a shoulder injury in the loss to KXIP and will play no further part in the remainder of the tournament.
League position – 1
Matches – 14
Wins – 9
Losses – 5
If there is one man who has defined Mumbai’s campaign this season, it is Hardik Pandya. The all-rounder has put behind a lean year in international cricket behind him to produce his best-ever IPL showing.
A total of 380 runs have come solely from Pandya’s bat so far this season with the right-hander striking them at a rate of nearly 200. Only KKR’s Andre Russell can claim to have a better all-round tournament than Pandya who has also picked up 14 wickets with the ball and even that will be an arguable call.
With Pandya striking the ball as cleanly as he has ever done in his career, Mumbai will be pretty confident.
Currently, there aren’t many chinks in Mumbai’s armour. However, they have relied too heavily on Pandya’s swift cameos in the death overs to bail them out of sticky situations on several occasions and that reliance could prove costly if the all-rounder fails to fire.
One of the top-order batsmen who has failed to really make it count is skipper Rohit Sharma, whose second half-century of the tournament came as recently as Sunday. While he has had several starts, the opener has struggled to play the long innings and that has at times increased the pressure on all-rounders such as Pandya and Kieron Pollard to go all guns blazing from ball one.
Finishing top of the league has its perks and the biggest of them is the fact that Mumbai will get two attempts at making the final. That is not the only positive sign for Rohit’s men, who take on Chennai Super Kings at the Chepauk stadium in Qualifier 1.
Mumbai have won five of their seven meetings against CSK at the Chepauk and that should give them the upper hand in the Qualifier. They have also done the double over MS Dhoni and his men this season and that should be another psychological boost.
Spin will be crucial for Mumbai in the Qualifier 1 battle against CSK at the Chepauk and their best performer in that department has been young Rahul Chahar who is undertaking his maiden IPL campaign.
While Krunal Pandya is experienced, Chahar, Anukul Roy and even Mayank Markande are still fairly new to the big stage and their mentality will greatly tested in the play-offs.