The opposites meet again, for the last time this season, with everything at stake. It’s do-or-die now. There’s no net run rate anymore, no home support, nothing. Everything will be on the line as Delhi Capitals clash with Chennai Super Kings at the ACA-VDCA Stadium in Visakhapatnam.
Delhi relied heavily on their youthful exuberance to triumph over their inexperience. And so far, it has. Rishabh Pant’s wild knock yesterday took them to the brink, but he didn’t see it through, and that very nearly cost them a place in the second Qualifier. Level heads, composure and poise will all be needed as things get edgy – the young aren’t known for that.
Meanwhile, Chennai are known precisely for that. It is what has got them this far in the tournament, despite their batting being more than just dodgy, and their bowling might largely relying on two individuals – Deepak Chahar and Imran Tahir.
It’s their know-how in the crunch moments that’s the biggest strength of this ageing, nay aged, side. It is also their biggest weakness. For with age, your slumps look graver, your misses look harsher. And there are cynical whispers just around every corner.
This is more than an IPL match. It’s a clash between stages of life. The sort of clash that elevates sport.
Head to head
Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals have clashed 19 times over the years. Chennai, to nobody’s surprise, boss this rivalry with 13 wins to Delhi’s 6. Even in their two clashes in the league stage of this season, Chennai triumphed – comfortably at that, by 6 wickets and then by 80 runs.
Will Delhi get third-time lucky?
Shane Watson (Chennai Super Kings): “Watto” has been out of sorts this campaign, despite heading into it on the back of excellent form. Chennai have persisted with him all through, but any other team would have dropped him ages ago. It’s time to come good. If he does, Delhi won’t have a prayer.
Rishabh Pant (Delhi Capitals): Pant can explode at any time, but can also throw it all away just as quickly. It’s a trait he needs to work on. And in future, Dhoni will be a big asset in helping him through all that. For now, however, Dhoni will prey on it. Can Pant suppress his instincts when the going gets tough?
Chennai Super Kings: Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, M Vijay, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Harbhajan Singh, Deepak Chahar, Imran Tahir.
Delhi Capitals: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer (c), Rishabh Pant (wk), Colin Ingram, Sherfane Rutherford, Axar Patel, Keemo Paul, Amit Mishra, Trent Boult, Ishant Sharma.
It’s a hard one to call. But Delhi have something about them this season. The Capitals to win.