New South Wales face must-win game
Chennai Super Kings v New South Wales, October 4, Chennai
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Going into the last Group A match, the equation is simple for New South Wales, who have four points. Win, and they are through to the semi-finals of the Champions League T20 as the group's toppers. If they lose, they are out.
Super Kings, who are on two points, will need Trinidad & Tobago to beat Cape Cobras in the first match of the day. If T&T win, Super Kings can make the semi-final, so long as they register a big enough win to go ahead of NSW and T&T (whose net run-rates are presently marginally superior to Super Kings') on net run-rate. If the match is washed out - scattered thunderstorms are forecast - Super Kings will not progress, while NSW will need T&T to beat Cape Cobras.
The advantage both sides enjoy, as MS Dhoni pointed out after the defeat to T&T, is they are playing the last game in their group. Based on the Cobras-T&T result, these teams will know exactly what they need to do to progress. If Cobras win, however, the Super Kings are out before the game begins, and only NSW can progress.
NSW should be in a better frame of mind for this make-or-break match than Super Kings. They took advantage of the low, slow pitch at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday, keeping Mumbai Indians to 100, before overcoming a top-order wobble to chase the target on the difficult track. Super Kings, meanwhile, allowed T&T's Kevon Cooper to produce a late blitz and were then woeful in the chase, albeit against a bowling attack that was well-suited to the conditions.
Watch out for …
It's been a tough few months for MS Dhoni. Things have gone quickly downhill for him following India's 2011 World Cup win and Super Kings' successful defence of their IPL title. It was hard to relate the batsman who struck a commanding six to win the World Cup to the one who struggled to 7 off 22 balls, albeit on a very different pitch, against T&T. Dhoni will be eager to put to rest at least some of the questions arising on his form and fitness, especially ahead of a busy international season.
Left-arm spinner Steve O'Keefe seemed to enjoy bowling on the Chepauk track against Mumbai Indians, claiming 2 for 18 in his four overs. He bowled Andrew Symonds and got R Sathish, who had settled in, to hole out. With more of the same slowness and lowness guaranteed to be on offer against Super Kings, O'Keefe could prove crucial to NSW's chances.
Super Kings' Shadab Jakati was hit on the finger on Sunday, when Lendl Simmons whacked the ball back at him in his follow-through. Later, during a television interview, Jakati said the finger was a bit swollen. If he is unable to play, offspinner Suraj Randiv could get a game, most probably replacing Albie Morkel as the fourth foreign player in the XI. Even otherwise, the nature of the Chepauk track might prompt playing three spinners.
NSW's three-pronged pace attack - Stuart Clark, Patrick Cummins and Mitchell Starc - have all put in decent performances. Given the conditions and Super Kings' previous performance, though, Simon Katich will have to decide if it's worth playing the extra spinner, to back up O'Keefe and Steven Smith. Nathan Hauritz is NSW's third spinning option, but he was quite expensive in the one match he played in the tournament.
Stats and trivia
- Only three New South Wales batsmen - David Warner, Shane Watson and Daniel Smith - have strike-rates above 100 in the tournament. Of these, only Warner has a strike-rate above 105.
- Apart from Michael Hussey, none of the Chennai Super Kings batsmen have gone past 50 runs in the tournament so far.
"We couldn't read which way he [Sunil Narine] was spinning the ball, because we haven't played him before. Sometimes, it's tough to play someone we haven't faced."
Michael Hussey admits the Super Kings were clueless against the T&T spinner
"That's the beauty of our team. Hopefully, as we go through the tournament, guys will [continue to] put their hands up and get the job done."
Simon Katich is pleased that New South Wales were able to fight their way out of a tough situation against Mumbai Indians
Nikita Bastian is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo