For a good part of this IPL season and until Mumbais dramatic win on Monday night,the Chennai Super Kings had the sole lead on the points table. Finally,in their penultimate group game their 15th of 2013 Mahendra Singh Dhonis men could book a berth for the play-offs.
The situation for Chennai is arithmetically a simple one. Win one out of the remaining two matches and they will be guaranteed a spot in the top-four when the round robin finishes. The first of those two matches is against the second worst team this season,the Delhi Daredevils,on Tuesday a side that will be playing for nothing more than pride.
And to make this achievement that much easier,the CSK will plays hosts. In their own backyard at Chepauk,Chennai have pretty much been invincible for the second half of the edition,winning five out of their last six matches.
But if they were to lose,then suddenly and perhaps for the first time this season,the pressure will be on Chennai. For then if they have to qualify for the play-offs on the own accord,then they will have to beat one of the best home sides this season,the Royal Challengers Bangalore,at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in their last match.
Currently,Dhonis side are tied on points (20) but boast of a better net run rate than the Rajasthan Royals,the team that beat them pretty convincingly over the weekend. If Chennai win neither of their two games,then the scenarios are such that they could mathematically be tied on ten wins with two other teams,thereby leaving their qualification to fate and NRR a situation that Dhoni and Co will be working desperately hard to avoid.
It shouldnt be very difficult,considering that Chennais two biggest wins (in terms of runs) in the IPL have come against the Daredevils — both by exactly 86 runs.
The more of the two occurences was earlier this season,when Mike Hussey (65) and Dhoni (44) got it going at the Ferozeshah Kotla to notch 169 in the first innings,only to bowl Delhi out for 83 soon after.
That knock was the first of a string of good scores off Dhonis bat,as he followed it up with an unbeaten 67 against Hyderabad,a quick fire 21 against Rajasthan in their first meeting and an unbeaten 45 against Pune. That run,though,seems to have come to a screeching halt with scores of 2,10,4 and 2 in the last four games.
In Chennai,no Mahela
But whatever problems Chennai face,they can be rest assured that Delhi face the same multiplied by a large integer.
Apart from winning just one out of their last eight games,the squad arrives in Chennai minus their Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene. In his place,David Warner will lead the side,following his trial run against Bangalore at home in the previous game.