A first ever Indian Premier League (IPL) final appearance is in sight for young Delhi Capitals but they must first navigate past defending champions Chennai Super Kings in the second Qualifier set to take place in Vizag on Friday.
Three-time champions Chennai will get a second bite at the cherry following their loss to Mumbai Indians in the first Qualifier while Delhi come into the game on a high following a nerve-wracking win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Eliminator.
MOMENTUM FIRMLY WITH DELHI
Although Chennai have had the upper hand over Shreyas Iyer’s men in the league stage with two victories in as many games, it is Delhi who arrive at the second Qualifier with the momentum firmly on their side.
Despite being the first team to qualify for the 2019 IPL play-offs, Chennai have lost their aura of invincibility with three defeats in four matches. Their sole victory in that period came in an 80-run win over Delhi but MS Dhoni and his men have ended up on the losing side twice against Mumbai Indians and once against Kings XI Punjab.
Delhi, on the other hand, are flying despite their late hiccup in the Eliminator triumph over Sunrisers Hyderabad. Iyer’s men have now won five of their last six outings with the loss to CSK being the only blip in their fine run.
PRESSURE RISING ON CSK’S VETERANS AS DELHI SHOW FRAILTIES OF YOUTH
It will be a clash of experience versus youth as Chennai’s veteran campaigners take on a Delhi side brimming with youngsters.
Delhi’s young squad has showed the vulnerability of youth with the way they have struggled to close off matches with the bat. It was once again evident in the Eliminator on Wednesday where Delhi nearly botched up a straightforward chase before winning the match off the penultimate ball.
Crumbling under pressure while chasing is a bad habit that has plagued Delhi’s youngsters throughout the tournament and it is one that could prove costly in a knock-out clash.
Be that as it may, Chennai’s veteran campaigners haven’t really covered themselves in glory with skipper MS Dhoni making his frustrations clear with the top-order batsmen following his side’s defeat to Mumbai in the first Qualifier.
One of the men under pressure is opener Shane Watson who is averaging a meagre 17 in the tournament and was guilty of throwing his wicket away to a rash shot in the first Qualifier.
Delhi and Chennai’s bowling units have been more than formidable over the course of the IPL but there are clearly issues in the batting department for both sides which could be exploited.
CSK’s STELLAR PLAY-OFF RECORD
While Delhi are chasing their maiden IPL final appearance, their opponents have been there and done that plenty of times over the course of the tournament’s history.
The loss to Mumbai in Qualifier 1 was a rarity for Dhoni’s men who have developed a penchant of always going deep into the competition. In their previous nine editions of the IPL, Chennai have qualified for the play-offs on each occasion.
In those nine editions, only twice has the franchise failed to reach the final which is a staggering achievement in its own right. Dhoni’s men have made a record seven final appearances previously and the experience of playing in those should hold them in good stead.
Chennai Super Kings: Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (c and wk), Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Deepak Chahar, Imran Tahir.
Delhi Capitals: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer (c), Rishabh Pant (wk), Colin Munro, Keemo Paul, Sherfane Rutherford, Axar Patel, Amit Mishra, Trent Boult, Ishant Sharma.
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