The second of the IPL semi finals sees Deccan Chargers take on Chennai Super Kings in Mumbai on Thursday. Both of these teams endured a nightmare run of form during IPL 2010 but now they stand on the brink of reaching the final. “This game is all about the clash between Chennai’s batting and Deccan’s bowling.”
Venue and Conditions:
It is a pity for the people of Bangalore that the semi-finals were moved from that city, but as alternative venues go, there could be few better than the Dr DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai. It is the most modern cricket arena in India and the crowds there make one hell of a din.
There have been six IPL games at the ground and the stats are quite revealing. An average first innings score of 153 does not suggest a typical Indian pitch, nor does the fact that quicker bowlers have fared better than spinners, both in terms of averages and economy rates. The relatively new playing surface was laid using 200 tonnes of South African soil and was intended to offer pace and bounce for the quick bowlers.
It was on this ground in 2008 that Adam Gilchrist smashed 109 off 47 balls, the fastest century of the IPL, a record that stood until Yusuf Pathan surpassed it this year.
Road to semi- Final:
When the Deccan Chargers threw away a match winning position against the Rajasthan Royals in match #36, they had just three wins from nine games and looked to be heading out of the tournament. Gilchrist’s team subsequently reeled off five consecutive wins including a 6 wicket victory over semi final opponents the Super Kings in match 42 when they restricted the big hitting Chennai to a total of just 138. They also came out on top in their earlier meeting with the Super Kings, posting 190 in their 20 overs which was 31 runs to many for Chennai. Bear in mind the Chargers have been unable to play any “home games” due to security concerns and it has been some effort to reach the semis in a gallant defence of the title they won last year.
The Super Kings also cut things very fine. They were faced with the task of having to win their final game against Kings XI in Dharamsala and were on the ropes as Punjab posted 192. Super Kings fell behind in the run chase as both openers went cheaply but Raina, Badrinath and especially MS Dhoni (54 off 29) came to the party to see them through in a thrilling finish.
Chennai are faced once more with the Murali conundrum. Do they bring back their world class spinner for a game of this magnitude or do they stick with his understudy, Ravichandran Ashwin, who has been doing a splendid job for them? It is likely that they will continue to leave Muttiah on the bench but could bring in seam bowler Thilan Thushara for the relatively ineffective Justin Kemp.
A glance at the tournament’s top run scorer charts sees the older brigade of Tendulkar, Kallis, Ganguly and Mahela Jayawardene taking four of the top five places. A closer look reveals Chennai’s young guns Raina (4th) and Murali Vijay (6th) with strike rates of 142 and 158 respectively, in summary, these boys get runs and they get them quickly. Not to be outdone, the Chargers Andrew Symonds and Rohit Sharma are just behind them on the log although their strike rates are a touch lower at 130 and 137.
Deccan’s run of success has been based on a settled side and we probably shouldn’t expect too many changes. They may consider bringing back the experience of Herschelle Gibbs, at the expense of Mitchell Marsh but one change they are almost certain to make is R P Singh being recalled in place of Rahul Sharma for a venue likely to more conducive to swing bowling than spin.
Pragyan Ojha proved to be the Chargers trump card with the ball. With 20 wickets he was three clear of his nearest rival in the tournaments leading wicket taker log. Chaminda Vaas played less than half the Chargers games but is their most economical bowler and the only one with a sub 7.00 economy rate.
This game is all about the clash between Chennai’s batting and Deccan’s bowling. Both sides have in truth been pretty ordinary with the ball for long periods in this tournament, but the recall of Chaminda Vaas to the Charger’s line up makes them a far more potent bowling unit and R P Singh could also be very effective at this venue. Chennai’s bowlers, meanwhile, have continued to disappoint, Doug Bollinger and Ashwin apart and on Sunday conceded 192 runs against rock bottom Punjab. With Adam Gilchrist still out of form, it is best to look elsewhere for top Deccan Chargers batsman. Monish Mishra and Tirumalasetti Suman have done well but in such a pressurised high profile game it is best to side with the experience of Rohit Sharma.
Chennai do appear to have the edge in the batting department. Though both teams have been weakened by the poor form of their veteran Aussie openers, Chennai have slightly more experience in the middle order, with Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni and Albie Morkel providing a useful backbone, whereas the Chargers have been mainly dependent on their inexperienced Indian batsmen and some uncharacteristically sensible efforts from Andrew Symonds. For Chennai, any of M S Dhoni, Subramaniam Badrinath or Suresh Raina would be a good call, but the preference is for Raina who has been in the form of his life during this IPL, has bigger match experience than Badrinath and is certain to come in high up the order, unlike Dhoni.