Good planning and clarity of roles can often bring confidence and favourable results for sports teams. Nine games into their IPL 2022 campaign, Chennai Super Kings finally look like they know what they are doing - though the sample size is just one match - and it has coincided with the return of their Thala at the helm.
Against a strong Sunrisers Hyderabad
, they stuck to what has been their tried-and-tested plan with the bat: start slow, accelerate in the middle overs, and go full throttle at the death. Ruturaj Gaikwad
, who finished one run shy of a century, batted like he hadn't endured a long lean patch, and Devon Conway
's fine hitting came as a much-needed boost at the top. And despite missing their star death-over specialist Dwayne Bravo and the pace attack looking thin on experience, Super Kings successfully defended 202 to collect those crucial two points. They are still placed ninth on the points table
, though, with three wins from nine games.
Come Wednesday, MS Dhoni's men will be up against Royal Challengers Bangalore, who are at sixth place with five wins from ten matches. They have been patchy, but have the personnel. A slip-up against them could well end the defending champions' faint hopes of qualifying for the playoffs.
Royal Challengers are in the middle of the table, having gone winless in the last 14 days. Their bowling is in a healthy state with the likes of Wanindu Hasaranga, Josh Hazlewood and Mohammed Siraj among the wickets, but their batting needs to pick up pace. Captain Faf du Plessis
has not found his magic touch, with 184 of his 278 runs coming in just two innings. That he has been dismissed for single-digit scores five times in ten innings this season speaks of his struggles.
Despite losing their previous match against Gujarat Titans
in the final over, there were a few positives for du Plessis' men - a struggling Virat Kohli finally got some runs as an opener, but Rajat Patidar
's half-century was the bigger story. Against Super Kings, Royal Challengers will need to up their batting game to stay relevant in the top-four race, with only a handful of matches remaining in the group stage after this fixture.
An unfit Bravo was forced to miss Super Kings' game against Sunrisers. If he is available on Wednesday, spin allrounder Mitchell Santner might make way for him. In case Moeen Ali is fit - he started training after a layoff a couple of days ago - there might be another option for Super Kings. Royal Challengers are unlikely to change their playing XI.
Chennai Super Kings: 1 Ruturaj Gaikwad, 2 Devon Conway, 3 Robin Uthappa, 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Moeen Ali/Dwayne Bravo/Mitchell Santner, 8 Dwaine Pretorius, 9 Maheesh Theekshana, 10 Simarjeet Singh, 11 Mukesh Choudhary
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Faf du Plessis (capt), 2 Virat Kohli, 3 Rajat Patidar, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Shahbaz Ahmed, 6 Mahipal Lomror, 7 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 8 Wanindu Hasaranga, 9 Harshal Patel, 10 Mohammed Siraj, 11 Josh Hazlewood
Relieved of captaincy duties, Ravindra Jadeja bowled in tandem with Sri Lankan spinner Maheesh Theekshana in the middle overs and conceded only 15 runs from his 18 balls against Sunrisers. He will be crucial especially against Glenn Maxwell. Jadeja has dismissed Maxwell seven out of the 13 times they have met in the IPL, with the Australian averaging just 10.1. Jadeja has also removed Kohli thrice in 16 T20s and has brought his strike rate down to 108. Dhoni has hit 46 sixes against Royal Challengers over the years, the most by a batter against them. du Plessis has been dismissed by pacers eight times in his ten matches this IPL. Kohli has scored 949 runs against Super Kings in the IPL, the most against an opposition for him.