Delhi Capitals, who have finally come together to play like ‘Daredevils’, will have to produce another special effort to beat the consistent Chennai Super Kings for the first time this season and make their maiden IPL final on Friday.
It was CSK who denied Delhi a top-two spot in the league standings with a crushing 80-run win at Chepauk and the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side stands in their way again, only stakes are much higher in the Qualifier 2. The tense win in the Eliminator, set up by their star player Rishabh Pant, here on Wednesday night is bound to provide an extra dose of motivation going into the knock-out game at Vizag.
Pant’s 21-ball 49 in a high-pressure game reignited the debate on social media over his non-selection in India’s World Cup squad with former England captain Michael Vaughan saying it was bonkers to not have the young-wicketkeeper batsman in the mega event starting 30 May.
His sensational effort made all the difference in the run-chase but he got out when his team was very close to the finishing line. Not being able to finish games is one criticism that he has had to deal with repeatedly and there would be no better stage than Qualifier 2 to come up with another match-wining knock and carry his bat through. Another young gun Prithvi Shaw too played an important innings of 56 and was happy to be back among the runs after low-scores in the previous three innings.
Delhi, having already played a game here, will have the advantage of knowing the the conditions better. Their fast bowlers, Trent Boult and Ishant Sharma, did a decent job in the absence of Kagiso Rabada and were well supported by Keemo Paul, who picked up three wickets. Veteran spinner Amit Mishra was frugal again and also picked up an important wicket.
The batsmen would be rather relieved that they would not have to face the spin threat of Imran Tahir and Harbhajan Singh on a turner in Chennai but it would be a challenge nonetheless.
Another thing Delhi would have to be wary of is stage fright though the Eliminator surely prepared them for the tougher battles ahead. CSK, on the other hand, are used to playing the big matches, having won three titles besides being runners-up four times.
They were hammered by Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 1 but expect CSK to bounce back in style. Dhoni will be expecting an improved performance from his batsmen after the disappointment against Mumbai Indians. Opener Shane Watson has not been among the runs ever since smashing a 53-ball 96 against Sunrisers on 23 April.
The talismanic skipper admitted that they could have read the conditions better against Mumbai at home and asked his batsmen to be careful with shot selection going forward. “These are the best batsmen we have got, it looks like we are are batting well, but at times, they pull off shots that shouldn’t be played. These are the players who we have banked on, they have the experience and they should know to assess the conditions better,” said Dhoni after the six-wicket loss to Mumbai.