Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad in battle of table-toppers

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Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad in battle of table-toppers

PUNE: Sunday’s clash between table-toppers Sunrisers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings at the MCA Stadium here presents an opportunity for the MS Dhoni-led outfit to turn things around after losing their last match against Rajasthan Royals on Thursday night.

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While a win from their remaining three league games should be enough to hand them a playoffs berth, CSK – with 14 points from 11 matches – will want to win all to give them the best possible chance of a top-2 finish. SRH, on the other hand, will surely finish top-two if they win on Sunday. They lost their first match to CSK at home and given the fact that they might face Dhoni’s men again in the play-offs, it’s crucial that the Hyderabad side wins on Sunday so that they have the momentum running in their favour going into the business end.

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Meanwhile for CSK, the biggest worry has been their bowlers’ inability to deliver at the death. CSK’s economy rate in the crucial 19th over while defending totals has been a dismal 16 – the poorest among all teams in the current season.

It wasn’t a surprise to see Dhoni slamming his bowlers for their poor show against Rajasthan. “We were supposed to bowl one particular length – back of a length. The bowlers could not execute. We were hit for a lot of boundaries off full balls. 176 was a par-plus score, (but) the bowlers let us down,” lamented Dhoni. A rejig in the bowling line-up could be on the cards for CSK. Deepak Chahar – who sustained a hamstring injury two weeks ago – is available for selection. “He has recovered from the injury and should be part of the playing XI,” said a team official.

In sharp contrast, SRH’s success this season has a lot to do with the way they have defended totals. They have have successfully defended totals like 118, 132, 146 and 151 and that has taken a lot of pressure away from a batting line-up which has sometimes lacked a bit of firepower. “Defending totals is a collective responsibility. You need the bowler shouldering the responsibility and you need the other 10 on the field to back him up. It’s definitely been an area of focus for us. The idea is to get the right balance in the bowling attack and as a fielding group provide the best possible support,” said coach Tom Moody.

Despite SRH already making the play-offs, Moody made it clear that there will be no experimentation on Sunday. “As a playing group, we are looking for constant improvement. We will play our best XI on any given day. We want to finish in the top-2 and each game provides us an opportunity to put our best players on the park. Momentum is important in this format and we would like to keep that going,” said Moody.

Wriddhiman Saha, who sat out of the last game due to shoulder soreness, will not be part of the final XI and Sreevats Goswami will continue to don the wicketkeeper’s glove. “Saha wont be available and we are expecting him to be available for our final (league) match,” said Moody.

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