Big picture

At its core, good sport is meant to shock us. To move us. To sweep us up in its awesomeness. Delhi Capitals weren't supposed to come this far - they had never even won an IPL playoff match before last night. But here they are as cricket tries its hardest not to lag behind football, which is putting on such a wondrous spectacle in Europe.

"I think we have an affinity to make things interesting," Prithvi Shaw said after the breakneck finish on Wednesday. Capitals have this odd little habit of putting pressure on themselves even when the game seems done and dusted. Their opponents, meanwhile, have made it their business to be immune to pressure. To follow their captain's lead and become high-functioning sportsiopaths.

This is a lovely clash. It's youth v experience. It's a team learning to revel under pressure v a team that repels it. It has fun written all over it. So let's just sit back, relax and enjoy what should be another wild night.

Oh, and while we do that, maybe we could also think about the ones who couldn't make it. Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan, like Hakim Ziyech and Noussair Mazraoui, had performed at mind-bogglingly high levels while they were fasting for Ramadan.

Likely XIs

Chennai Super Kings: 1 Shane Watson, 2 Faf du Plessis, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 M Vijay, 5 Ambati Rayudu, 6 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Dwayne Bravo, 9 Harbhajan Singh, 10 Deepak Chahar, 11 Imran Tahir

Delhi Capitals: 1 Prithvi Shaw, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Shreyas Iyer (capt), 4 Rishabh Pant (wk), 5 Colin Ingram, 6 Sherfane Rutherford, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Keemo Paul, 9 Amit Mishra, 10 Chris Morris/ Trent Boult, 11 Ishant Sharma

Previous meeting

Capitals came off quite the worse for wear, all out for 99 chasing 179 courtesy the CSK spinners.

Strategy punt

  • MS Dhoni is master of the endgame: 213 of his 405 runs this season have come from overs 18 to 20. Chris Morris is good at the death too: ten of his 13 wickets this IPL have come in overs 16 to 20. That match-up should get the South African in the XI. That and the fact that Dhoni hits every other Capitals bowler at a strike rate of 170 or more.
  • Rishabh Pant always had the big-hitting thing down but now he's starting to finish games. But for some reason, he hadn't hit a six on the off side against fast bowling until last night. Maybe Dwayne Bravo, who has a favourable T20 head-to-head against the left-hander (25 off 20, one dismissal), could run with that; bowl wide of off stump to see what happens.

Stats that matter

  • CSK's spinners have taken 55 wickets this IPL, the most by a team in a single season. And it hasn't been a one-man show either: Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir and Ravindra Jadeja have all picked up 12-plus wickets.
  • They will be very keen to have a go at the Capitals middle-order. The Nos. 4 to 7 have averaged only 20.5, third-worst among all teams this year.
  • CSK have batting issues as well, in their top order. Shane Watson's average of 14.6 in the Powerplay is the second-lowest for an opener in the history of the IPL. And, as a result of that, the team has rarely had a solid foundation to build an innings.
  • Trent Boult is genius. But it's not always been apparent in the IPL, where he averages 53.7 runs per wicket in Powerplay and concedes at 10.7 runs per over at the death, two phases where a fast bowler is expected to deliver for the team.
  • The average score in Vizag in T20Is and IPL matches since 2013 is 148. And based on the Eliminator, spin could play a big part: economy rate of 6 as opposed to 9.6 for fast bowling

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo