Despite the unavailability of key players at various points and a trial by Covid-19, Delhi Capitals are finding a way to stay in the playoff hunt. Their net run-rate of +0.641 is the best among all ten teams, which suggests their five losses have been close affairs. Their opponents Chennai Super Kings have also had to deal with the absence of key players, chiefly Deepak Chahar, but they haven't been able to cope as well. Super Kings are mathematically still in the mix for the playoffs, but only just.
MS Dhoni himself said that Super Kings' young, inexperienced bowlers are still learning on the job and hence need fine-tuning. Mukesh Choudhary, Simarjeet Singh, Dwaine Pretorius, and Maheesh Theekshana are all playing their first (full) IPL seasons. Dwayne Bravo's recent injury has applied greater pressure on the attack although Theekshana filled in admirably for Bravo with a three-wicket penultimate over against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Super Kings have issues on the batting front, too, although Devon Conway and Ruturaj Gaikwad briefly tore open a portal to the Mike Hussey-M Vijay union, in the last couple of games. Jadeja's batting strike rate of 118.36 is his lowest since IPL 2015 and overall, the middle order has fired in only fits and starts.
Capitals' middle order, though, looks in much healthier shape, especially with Rovman Powell clicking into top gear after a slow start to the season. However, if Super Kings manage to make early inroads, they can test the batting depth of Capitals who have Lalit Yadav, Axar Patel/Ripal Patel and Shardul Thakur carded at Nos. 6,7 and 8.
In the news
Prithvi Shaw will miss the match, having been ruled out with an illness that led him to be hospitalised. It remains to be seen whether Axar Patel and Bravo have recovered from their respective injuries.
Chennai Super Kings: 1 Devon Conway, 2 Ruturaj Gaikwad, 3 Robin Uthappa, 4 Moeen Ali, 5 Ambati Rayudu, 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 MS Dhoni (capt&wk), 8 Dwayne Bravo/Dwaine Pretorius, 9 Maheesh Theekshana, 10 Simarjeet Singh, 11 Mukesh Choudhary
Delhi Capitals: 1 David Warner, 2 Mandeep Singh, 3 Mitchell Marsh, 4 Rishabh Pant (capt&wk), 5 Rovman Powell, 6 Lalit Yadav, 7 Axar Patel/Ripal Patel, 8 Shardul Thakur, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Anrich Nortje, 11 Khaleel Ahmed
How about matching up Kuldeep Yadav with Ambati Rayudu? The left-arm wristspinner has removed Rayudu twice in five IPL innings while keeping him to a run-a-ball 24. Rayudu, however, has been strong against wristspinners this IPL, taking 53 runs from 36 balls off them while being dismissed just once.
Stats that matter
May 8, GMT 1140 The preview was updated with news that Shaw has been ruled out of the match.
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo