The reigning champions secured a vital win on Thursday to halt a nightmare run of form. But they are still some way from breaking into the top four. They will take on the Chennai Super Kings in a vital IPL game in Napur on Saturday. Both sides have semi final aspirations but the Super Kings are firm favourites.
Venue and Conditions:
The wandering Deccan Chargers play their second game at the Vidharba Cricket Association Stadium, Nagpur. This ground boasts the largest boundaries in the tournament and so offers some respite for hard-pressed spin bowlers.
Chennai have hit more sixes than any other team in the tournament, 69 in total.
The Chargers gave themselves a lifeline with an excellent win over the Royal Challengers in Bangalore on Thursday. They had struggled to close games out, particularly with the bat and their big guns had not turned in the huge scores they are capable of. But Andrew Symonds steered them home against the Royal Challengers and that will have done their confidence a lot of good.
A seven wicket win after successfully chasing 185 for victory halted a run of five successive defeats and just about keeps Gilchrist’s men in the tournament. They may well need to win all four of their remaining games which include another game against Royal Challengers, then the Kings XI and finally the Daredevils.
The win over Bangalore was the first time the Chargers had successfully chased a total in IPL3 with Symonds and Suman seeing them home with some great hitting. Pragyan Ojha has been the most consistent bowler for Deccan, picking up 15 wickets to lie at the top of the bowlers list in IPL III and although RP Singh has been in and out of the team, he has take nine wickets.
After an inconsistent first half of the tournament the Super Kings have found plenty of momentum in winning their last three matches. Those wins came against Royal Challengers in Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals and the Mumbai Indians (both in Chennai).
Their net run rate has improved in the process but they probably still need three wins from four remaining matches and after this they face the Knight Riders, the Daredevils and finally the Kings XI.
Murali was rested from the Super Kings win over Mumbai but I would be surprised if he didn’t return for this as dry pitch will suit him perfectly. Chennai may not be in a hurry to recall Albie Morkel even if he is fit as their bowling looked better without him last time.
A turning point in the Mumbai game was the early retirement of Tendulkar who has been pivotal in the Mumbai success so far in this tournament. Would the Super Kings have won if Sachin had not been taken ill?
Under Stephen Fleming’s astute guidance, the Super Kings have addressed their flaws, putting up three straight wins, including an impressive victory over Mumbai, a game in which their bowling also started to look the finished article.
Likely Star of the Match:
Charger’s: Adam Gilchrist, Rohit Sharma and Andrew Symonds.
Chennai’s: Matthew Hayden, Murali Vijay and Suresh Raina.
The two sides had split their four meetings in the last couple of editions of the IPL.
The Chargers beat the Super Kings in match number 5 in Chennai. After Deccan posted 190, Chaminda Vaas and Ojha put the squeeze on the Super Kings run chase in what turned out to be a comfortable 31 run win.
Chennai are a far stronger side, and I expect them to win in a canter. The one concern for Chennai will be that each of those last three wins came at home, and it remains to be seen whether they can carry their form with them on the road.
A terrific match in prospect with the Chargers pretty much still on their last life and the Super Kings right in the thick of the race for a semi final place. Although this is officially a Chargers “home game” they are in effect playing all their matches away from Hyderabad and their only previous game at Nagpur saw them self destruct against the Royals. There was huge improvement in Bangalore and this is an equally stiff test. I think it could be closer than the betting suggests and will stay clear of a punt but may get involved “in play”.