IPL qualifier 2: Delhi Capitals’ energy and Chennai Super Kings’ experience on collision course
Former aiming for their maiden final, while the Chennai side is a veteran of seven appearances in the summit clash
When the dust around Wednesday’s gripping IPL Eliminator finally settles, it is the Rishabh Pant show that will live on in the memory.
On a tacky, slow pitch, where other batsmen struggled for timing as the game wore on, Pant decided there was only one way he was going to approach the contest. It is this image that will define that see-saw encounter: of Pant walloping muscular sixes into the night sky.
There were some hairy moments at the close but Delhi Capitals eventually made it home: a first playoff win for the franchise after four failed attempts.
Little time to rest
Shreyas Iyer and his overjoyed lot have little time to rest before their next challenge — a meeting with Chennai Super Kings in Friday’s second qualifier at the ACA-VDCA Stadium here. Despite all its troubles against Mumbai Indians, and all of Delhi’s youthful energy, CSK cannot be seen to be the underdog here.
This is a team with three IPL wins and seven final appearances to its name, up against one aiming to reach its first final. There is something to be said for experience — edging knockout games is an art CSK has mastered.
M.S. Dhoni did not mince any words after Monday’s defeat. In familiar conditions, his seasoned top-order let the side down. Suresh Raina and Shane Watson played ill-advised shots against the spin on a slow turner, and CSK simply could not build any momentum.
“When you have experienced players in the side, that’s what you bank upon them [for],” Dhoni remarked, bluntly. “You’re not banking on them for extraordinary fielding.”
CSK has persisted with Watson despite his poor form this season; it felt he had turned a corner with that 96 against SRH but he has made scores of 8, 0, 7 and 10 since. With Kedar Jadhav out injured, it would seem CSK has no alternative — outside of trying inexperienced homegrown batsmen — but to trust Watson.
At Chepauk, CSK’s spinners — Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir and Ravindra Jadeja — could not quite have the same impact on the game as their Mumbai counterparts, but they will be pleased with how the pitch here behaved in the Eliminator. There was turn on offer, and a total of 162 turned out to be hugely competitive.
“Obviously, Chennai have got good spinners: Jaddu bhai and Tahir bhai and Harbhajan sir are there; so we’ll plan for them,” said Prithvi Shaw. “Everyone understands how they’re bowling because they’ve faced them already, in two-three IPLs.”
Potent spin attack
Delhi has a potent spin attack of its own. Veteran Amit Mishra was superb against SRH (not in his running between the wickets, it must be pointed out), dismissing Martin Guptill en route to figures of one for 16 from four overs. Axar Patel has gone at a shade over seven runs an over this season, while there are options on the bench in Rahul Tewatia and Karnataka’s J. Suchith.
CSK has lost five of its last seven matches, the dominance of the early weeks now feeling like events from a distant past. But among the two games it did win during this trying phase was an 80-run rout of Delhi. Form can change in a heartbeat. With a place in the final, against Mumbai Indians, at stake, neither side can afford to relax.