Ambati Rayudu responded to the news of him getting dropped from the World Cup squad with a cheeky tweet that involved 3D glasses. But the snub that he received could work well for Chennai Super Kings. Rayudu is now under practically no pressure to perform and he could unleash himself on Sunrisers Hyderabad on Wednesday.
Chennai Super Kings don’t necessarily need him to go ballistic though. With seven wins, the defending champions are sitting on top of the IPL table with a four-point and are looking unbeatable this season.
Sunrisers Hyderabad, who had also started the season as favourites, have remarkably fallen flat with three consecutive defeats. Unlike CSK, who seem to have options for every position, SRH have been dependent this season on their opening pair of Jonny Bairstow and David Warner. The two batsmen have enjoyed a sensational start to the season but in the last three matches, they haven’t performed at that same, superhuman level they were exhibiting in the early matches and SRH have slipped.
Barring Warner’s 400 runs and Bairstow’s 304 runs, the next best is World Cup bound Vijay Shankar’s 132 runs. It was predicted by many pundits before the tournament started that SRH’s fragile middle order would make it difficult for them to score consistently that has exactly been the case thus far in the season. Manish Pandey (54 in six games), Deepak Hooda (47 in six games) and Yusuf Pathan (32 in six games) have all been miserable.
On the other hand, Dhoni has played various combinations depending on surfaces and more often than not, his teammates have responded pretty well. Whether it was Harbhajan Singh on a very slow Chepauk track or the restrictive Mitchell Santner in away games, most of Dhoni’s strategies have paid off brilliantly. The man who has been a revelation for CSK this season is 40-year-old Imran Tahir with 13 wickets. The South African import has executed his skipper’s plans brilliantly. For Sunrisers to remain relevant in this edition, they need to stop the CSK juggernaut which looks easier said than done.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Kane Williamson (capt), Basil Thampi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Hooda, Manish Pandey, T Natarajan, Ricky Bhui, Sandeep Sharma, Siddarth Kaul, Shreevats Goswami, Khaleel Ahmed, Yusuf Pathan, Billy Stanlake, David Warner, Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, Shakib Al Hasan, Jonny Bairstow, Wriddhiman Saha, Martin Guptill, Vijay Shankar, Abhishek Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (captain & WK), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Murali Vijay, Kedar Jadhav, Sam Billings, Ravindra Jadeja, Dhruv Shorey, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Rituraj Gaikwad, Dwayne Bravo, Karn Sharma, Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Santner, Shardul Thakur, Mohit Sharma, K M Asif, Deepak Chahar, N Jagadeesan (wk), Scott Kuggeleijn.