IPL 2021: Experienced Chennai take on enthusiastic Delhi in Qualifier 1
Dubai, October 10, 2021
With the group stage done and dusted on Friday, the focus in IPL 2021 now shifts to the quest for a new champion of the tournament since 2018.
The first of four steps to finding a new IPL champion will start with the experienced Chennai Super Kings taking on an enthusiastic Delhi Capitals in the Qualifier 1 at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.
Both Chennai and Delhi will be itching to take the shortest path to the final. The team which wins on Sunday goes straight into the final on October 15 in Dubai. The team which loses will get another chance in making the final when it faces the winner of the eliminator match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders in Qualifier 2 on Wednesday.
Delhi were the table-toppers in the league stage with 20 points while Chennai was the second-best side with 18 points. This will be the eleventh time Chennai find themselves in the playoffs but they will be concerned about entering the last-four stage with three losses on the bounce. They will be wary of Delhi, who got the better of them in both group matches this year. But the thing which favour Chennai is the personnel in their ranks who have been there and done those countless times even if some of them are facing questions with regards to their form.
Delhi, on the other hand, continued their impressive show from India to UAE to make a hat-trick of entering playoffs since their rebranding. But they won't be pleased with how things panned out in their final league match against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Failing to capitalize on a great start in the first ten overs with the bat, a sloppy effort in the field, and a last-ball six by KS Bharat must have caused some reality checks in the dressing room.
The IPL 2020 runners-up will be having happy memories of playing against Chennai in Dubai when Kagis' Rabada's flick through fine leg sealed the deal for them in a low-scoring chase in the last over. Dubai is also a venue that has been kind to Delhi, where they have won two matches chasing, apart from losing Friday's match while defending.
For Chennai, Dubai has been a rough stretch. Apart from their win while defending against Mumbai Indians, they have lost while doing the same against Delhi and Punjab Kings.
In terms of fitness, Delhi will be hoping to have Marcus Stoinis in the eleven. But that depends on his recovery from a hamstring issue that kept him out of most of the league stage in the UAE. For Chennai, it remains to be seen if Suresh Raina, who hasn't been in the best of form, has made enough progress from a left knee niggle to take back his spot in the playing eleven from Robin Uthappa.
Delhi have beaten Chennai in their last four meetings. But when they last met in a playoff match in 2011, Chennai won and gave a knockout punch to Delhi. Expect Rishabh Pant and Co. to be wary of MS Dhoni and his team's big-match temperament.
Chennai Super Kings: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Dominic Drakes, Shardul Thakur, KM Asif, Josh Hazlewood, Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo, Imran Tahir, Robin Uthappa, Cheteshwar Pujara, Karn Sharma, Krishnappa Gowtham, Lungi Ngidi, Mitchell Santner, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore, Hari Nishanth, N Jagadeesan, Harishankar Reddy, Bhagath Varma
Delhi Capitals: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Steven Smith, Rishabh Pant (captain and wicketkeeper), Shreyas Iyer, Axar Patel, Shimron Hetmyer, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kagiso Rabada, Avesh Khan, Anrich Nortje, Sam Billings, Marcus Stoinis, Umesh Yadav, Lukman Meriwala, Tom Curran, Ben Dwarshuis, Praveen Dubey, Vishnu Vinod, Kulwant Khejroliya, Lalit Yadav, Ripal Patel, Ishant Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Amit Mishra