The two finalists - Sunrisers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings - have faced each other three times this IPL and the former lost every time. And as the final is about to start, we take a look at 3 key battles that may well prove to be the decisive factor as far as the eventual result is concerned.
Rashid Khan vs MS Dhoni
This is going to be interesting. While it is a no-brainer that the latter is going to be under pressure due to his recent struggles against the spinners, the former will have to his willy best so as to reduce MS Dhoni’s effectiveness. For all his inability to pick up the wrong ones, MS Dhoni still commands respect from the spinners for the way he reinvents suddenly. So, for the Sunrisers to break the CSK jinx, the team really need to be at its shrewd best and use Rashid Khan at a time when MS Dhoni will come out to bat and that is middle overs.
Also, considering the fact that MS Dhoni is using more power lately so as to negate the pacers, it is always better to reduce his strategy to a mere footnote by employing the Afghanistan spinner in the middle and death overs and Kane Williamson needs to utilize his main weapon judiciously. Also considering Wankhede track is squarer than other venues, hitting over mid-wicket actually needs more power and Rashid’s incoming balls may create some problems for MS Dhoni, who loves to send those balls with an angled bat.
Sunrisers top-order vs Chennai pacers
While it is an established fact that Sunrisers middle-order is underfiring this season, there have been some unasked questions in the top-order as well. Since Williamson moved down to bat at No.3, Sunrisers are without a proper opener to partner Shikhar Dhawan and as a result, in the last two matches, they could only manage to score 47 for 3 in the first qualifier and 45 for 0 in the second. Given the either of Shreevats Goswami and Wriddhiman Saha failed to give the team any sort of stability, Williamson or Dhawan was left to do the quick scoring and as SRH found out in the two qualifiers, they wouldn’t have them to score most of the runs in every match.
And this is the area that the CSK pacers need to exploit today. Given Dhawan or Williamson won’t be able to afford to play slow innings, CSK swing bowlers - Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar - can keep attacking them from the outset so as to unsettle them. Once they get these two big fishes in the basket, it will be a big step forward to grab their third IPL title.
Ambati Rayudu vs Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Ambati Rayudu’s affinity towards Sunrisers Hyderabad resulted in two
Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been one of the most potent options for the Hyderabad-based franchise over the years and being a master of the slower ball, he will be the man for the 2016 champions to pose a threat for the two-time champions’ mainstay for the season. Among everything, Rayudu’s major problem has been the way he takes the attack on the opposition - start aggressive, and the most striking aspect of his style is he bats mostly on one gear. In that sense, Bhuvi, more often than not, gets the better of the batsman and his subtle variations on the sleeve make him a potential threat for the aggressive batsman.
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