David Warner’s side will be eager to string some wins together after their hat-trick of losses to begin the tournament
This will be Chepauk’s final game in IPL 2021, and setting a competitive target here remains a challenge. The average first-innings score is 154 in the nine games here this edition, and 163 overall in the tournament’s history; in the previous three matches here, none of the teams batting first have reached 140, the chasing sides acing the contests.
After rounding off their Mumbai leg with two wins in three outings on the relatively quicker surfaces of the Wankhede, the Delhi Capitals were tested by the pronounced grip and turn offered by the sluggish Chepauk turf. But they one-upped defending champions Mumbai Indians on Tuesday on the back of Amit Mishra’s match-winning four-for and a steady hand from batters Shikhar Dhawan and Shimron Hetymer, whose cautious approach to the small chase was a reflection of better reading of conditions on the night.
An improved understanding of pursuing a target at the venue was also at the heart of the Sunrisers Hyderabad’s first successful chase in four attempts. After a hat-trick of losses to kick-start their 2021 campaign, their first such winless run to begin an IPL season, a better-rounded XI, with Kane Williamson present, alongside an in-form Jonny Bairstow, handed them their first points. That their Indian pace- and spin-bowling personnel showed up with able support for premier bowler Rashid Khan in the win against the Punjab Kings on Wednesday should encourage the side.
Expect pacers to play a key role in the second game of Sunday’s double-header, though, despite the slowness of the surface. Sixty-five wickets have fallen to pace at this venue this season, spinners taking 46. The Capitals might consider slotting the more in-form Chris Woakes in for Kagiso Rabada.
Sunrirsers left-arm quick T Natarajan, who played only two matches this season, was ruled out of the remainder of the tournament owing to a knee injury he picked up during the Australia tour. The franchise is yet to name a replacement.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s thigh strain could be a cause for concern for the Sunrisers after he walked off the field having bowled only three overs in the previous match. Should he be unavailable, Sandeep Sharma would figure as a like-for-like replacement in the XI.
Capitals allrounder Axar Patel recovered from Covid-19 and returned to the franchise camp on Thursday, having spent almost three weeks in a medical care facility in Mumbai.
Delhi Capitals: 1 Prithvi Shaw, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Steven Smith, 4 Rishabh Pant (capt & wk), 5 Marcus Stoinis, 6 Shimron Hetmyer, 7 Lalit Yadav, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Kagiso Rabada/Chris Woakes, 10 Amit Mishra, 11 Avesh Khan
Sunrisers Hyderabad: 1 David Warner (capt), 2 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Kedar Jadhav, 5 Vijay Shankar, 6 Virat Singh, 7 Abhishek Sharma, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Sandeep Sharma, 10 Siddarth Kaul , 11 Khaleel Ahmed
- In the potential absence of Bhuvneshwar, Siddarth Kaul might again be called upon to share death-bowling duties with Khaleel Ahmed. Kaul, however, is among the most expensive bowlers in this phase: among 43 bowlers to have bowled in as many innings at the death as Kaul’s nine since IPL 2019, only Hardik Pandya, Umesh Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat and Marcus Stoinis have conceded at a worse economy rate than Kaul’s 11.5. Sandeep Sharma fares slightly better, having gone at 9.1 in the end overs since IPL 2020. There may be a case, therefore, to not exhaust powerplay specialist Sharma’s quota up front if wickets are hard to come by in the face of a strong start from the Capitals.
- Could R Ashwin flick the switch with this game? He has a solitary wicket in four matches so far. In Chennai, he has traditionally been frugal, going for only 6.1 with a strike rate of 19. However, the major roadblock on his path to rediscovering his mojo could come in the form of Williamson, who is yet to fall to Ashwin and goes after him at a strike rate of 148.
Stats that matter
- David Warner is one hit shy of 200 sixes in the IPL. A fifty in the match will take him to 50 half-centuries in the tournament and 46 runs will lift his tally in T20s to 10,000.
- R Ashwin is four strikes short of 50 wickets at Chepauk in the league. If he gets at least one on the night, he will have reached 250 wickets in T20s.
- Thirty-six runs for Jonny Bairstow will make him the fourth England batter – after Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan, and Jos Buttler – to reach the 1000-run milestone in the IPL.
Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha