Big picture: Battle between two excellent spin units
It's a contest between a team very much in the hunt for a top-two finish - but not guaranteed a playoff spot yet - and the team that was the first to be knocked out of the playoffs race but cannot be taken for granted. For Chennai Super Kings, the equation is simple: beat Delhi Capitals in their last group game and cement their spot in the playoffs.
They were in a strong position, but a six-wicket loss
at home to Kolkata Knight Riders meant CSK's qualification chances took a bit of a hit. With 15 points from 13 matches, they are in second place currently - level on points with Lucknow Super Giants with a better net run rate. Now, if Capitals come out victorious at home on Saturday, CSK will need one of Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians to lose their final games. If CSK win this fixture and LSG lose to KKR in the second game of the day, then MS Dhoni
's men will play Qualifier 1 in Chennai.
Saturday's game will also be a clash between the two most economical spin attacks in the competition. Capitals' spinners have taken 24 wickets at an economy of 7.09, whereas CSK's have 35 at 7.55. Axar Patel
and Kuldeep Yadav
of Capitals, and Ravindra Jadeja
and Moeen Ali
of CSK feature in the top five in the list of spinners with the best economy rates this season (minimum 100 balls bowled), with Axar topping the chart with an economy rate of 6.95.
Where Capitals have faltered, CSK have not. They have got a lot of runs from their openers Devon Conway
(498 in 12 innings) and Ruturaj Gaikwad
(425 in 12), while role clarity has led to impactful performances from Shivam Dube
and Ajinkya Rahane
, with Dhoni providing late fireworks most times. Quick bowlers Matheesha Pathirana
and Tushar Deshpande
have picked up 32 wickets between them, with Pathirana one of the standout death bowlers in the competition this season.
That Capitals haven't done well at home this IPL - they have won just two of their six matches - will bode well for CSK. However, if one looks at Capitals' recent form, three wins in their last five matches is much better, more so for a team that has won just five games all season.
replaced the injured Mitchell Marsh in Capitals' previous game. For CSK, if Dube is still carrying a finger niggle, he is likely to be subbed in or out for the third match in a row, and play purely as a batter.
Delhi Capitals WLLWW (last five completed games, most recent first)
Chennai Super Kings LWWNRL
, who returned to the side in the previous game, against Punjab Kings, and scored a fifty, was substituted with seamer Mukesh Kumar when Capitals bowled. Phil Salt sacrificed his opening slot to Shaw, and that will likely be the formula for the home team on Saturday as well.
Delhi Capitals (probable XII): 1 David Warner (capt), 2 Prithvi Shaw, 3 Rilee Rossouw, 4 Phil Salt (wk), 5 Axar Patel, 6 Aman Khan, 7 Yash Dhull, 8 Kuldeep Yadav, 9 Anrich Nortje, 10 Mukesh Kumar, 11 Ishant Sharma, 12 Khaleel Ahmed
CSK have more or less stuck to the same XII in the second half of the tournament. Seamer Pathirana will swap in for Ambati Rayudu or Dube when they bowl.
Chennai Super Kings (probable XII): 1 Devon Conway, 2 Ruturaj Gaikwad, 3 Ajinkya Rahane, 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 Shivam Dube, 6 Moeen Ali, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 MS Dhoni (capt, wk), 9 Deepak Chahar, 10 Maheesh Theekshana, 11 Matheesha Pathirana, 12 Tushar Deshpande
The average first-innings score in Delhi this season is 168, and Warner has said the pitches have been "challenging for batters"
. Pacers have picked up 40 wickets whereas spinners have taken 32 in six games. In terms of the weather, CSK will feel at home with Delhi touching 42°C during the day - this is a 3.30pm start.
"Prithvi Shaw is one of the most beautiful batters to watch. And his time off from the playing XI has seemed to give him a chance to focus on the direction he wants to move in. He certainly had an extra bit of fire in the belly in our last game."
Capitals assistant coach Shane Watson on Shaw's form