The tables have turned. Chennai Super Kings come into this game as the best bowling side of the IPL with the second-lowest economy rate (7.1) in the Powerplay and the best in both the middle overs (6.5) and at the death (8.3).
Sunrisers Hyderabad, meanwhile, have slacked off a bit in the back end. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, for example, has an economy rate of 12.6 from overs 16 to 20 and was seen practicing various versions of the cutter with head coach Tom Moody on the eve of the game. Much of this contest will hinge on how Sunrisers can stop CSK in the back end (and so much of this preview will focus on that)
In the news
- CSK have a couple of injury worries: Harbhajan Singh did not travel to Kolkata for their last game with a stiff neck and while playing that game, MS Dhoni pulled up with back spasms.
- It is reported that Bangladesh will call Sunrisers’ Shakib Al Hasan back from the IPL next week for World Cup preparations.
- Former Sunrisers captain David Warner put down their 8 for 15 collapse in the last game to a lack of experience in the batting order. So based on that, it would seem Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan have a good chance of returning to the XI.
The 2018 final, which CSK won, chasing down 179 thanks to Shane Watson’s century.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: 1 David Warner, 2 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Vijay Shankar, 5 Manish Pandey, 6 Deepak Hooda/Yusuf Pathan, 7 Abhishek Sharma, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Sandeep Sharma, 11 Khaleel Ahmed
Chennai Super Kings: 1 Shane Watson, 2 Faf du Plessis, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Deepak Chahar, 10 Shardul Thakur, 11 Imran Tahir.
- The Sunrisers middle order is pretty crumbly, especially if Vijay Shankar can be knocked off early. And the best bet to do that seems to be with a spinner. The allrounder has made only 80 runs off 86 balls against them since IPL 2018. Moreover, in that same period, his dot-ball percentage (44%) and balls-per-boundary rate (14.3) are the third-worst of all the batsmen who have faced at least 75 deliveries of spin.
- To sweeten the deal for CSK, Vijay has already been dismissed twice in 12 balls by Mitchell Santner and he’s only ever made 13 runs off 20 balls against Ravindra Jadeja. (PS – he’s never faced Imran Tahir in a T20)
- There’s a similarly large head-to-head bulls-eye on Dhoni. He’s made only 14 off 22 against Rashid Khan and over half those deliveries have ended up being dots. The Super Kings captain is a massive force in the final overs of a T20 game but can he defy data (again) if Sunrisers save a couple of Rashid’s overs specifically for him?
Stats that matter
- Even otherwise, Rashid is Sunrisers’ best death bowler. He may have only taken six wickets in seven matches this season – but four of them have come from overs 16 to 20. His economy rate – 6 – and dot-ball percentage – 50 – are the best out of everyone who has bowled at least five overs in this phase of an innings in IPL 2019.
- Sunrisers would certainly need performances like that because they have a terrible record against CSK: 10 matches, 8 losses.
- There is a very clear vulnerability in the defending champions’ game plan, though. Their batting line-up is filled with slow starters. Listing this year’s batsmen with the lowest strike-rates in the first 20 balls of their innings, Ambati Rayudu at No. 1 (77), Dhoni at No. 4 (108) and Suresh Raina at No. 5 (110). Each of those batsmen, as is the CSK mantra, backs himself to make it up in the end but if Sunrisers can reprise their death-bowling masterclasses from 2018, we could be in for a great contest.
- Since 2015, the average total in T20Is and IPL matches played in Hyderabad is 158.
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.