Author : Sougat Chakravartty
The Southern Derby hits Ranchi today as the Sunrisers Hyderabad lock horns with former CLT20 champions Chennai Super Kings.
On paper, both have well-balanced squads on offer, but the Chennai outfit scores over its opponents in terms of experience.
Firepower both in batting and bowling is present in huge quantities for both teams, and they also have a good mix of all-rounders and spinners. It will be interesting to see which one blinks first!
Here is a list of five players to watch out for in today’s mouth-watering contest:
Shikhar Dhawan (Sunrisers Hyderabad – captain and opening batsman)
FILE PHOTO: Shikhar Dhawan
The Delhi lad is enjoying the best form of his life, having been in phenomenal touch for India and his franchise. He can single-handedly change the course of the game and also provides flying starts at the top of the order along with Parthiv Patel.
In fact, the latter was a former CSK player, and Dhawan will no doubt pick his brains on the kind of players to target when batting.
Captaincy hasn’t quite come naturally to the 28-year old; his decision to hold back leg-spinners Amit Mishra and Karan Sharma in the first qualifier against the Kandurata Maroons was baffling, to say the least. Nevertheless, he is a quick learner, having realized and rectified his mistakes quickly by the next match.
Hyderabad will look to their skipper to anchor the innings in case they have to chase or provide the kind of rapid starts they need against this formidable opposition, if they are to make first use of the wicket. It also remains to be seen if Dhawan can outmaneuver the Great Gambler, MSD himself!
Karan Sharma (Sunrisers Hyderabad – leg-spinner)
Along with Amit Mishra, Sharma forms a potent combination that has managed to surprise even the most well-settled side. The Meerut lad received plaudits for a very mature performance during the 2013 IPL; his leg-breaks were difficult to score off, and he was easily able to stem the flow of runs from opposition batsmen.
Karan is a sharp fielder as well, blessed with quick reflexes and a fine throwing arm. He has also contributed with the bat, as evidenced by his calm hitting during the nail-biter against Trinidad & Tobago the other night.
With his penchant for stifling free-flowing batsmen and ability to play the big shots, CSK will do well to keep an eye on this youngster.
Thisara Perera (Sunrisers Hyderabad – all-rounder)
The Sri Lankan cricketer has been a thorn in India’s side ever since he made his ODI debut. In the final of the 2011 World Cup, his pyrotechnics helped his side to a sizeable total, and he also struck crucial blows at times during the entire tournament, thus underlining his importance to the side.
Thisara is somewhat like Lance Klusener; he bats left-handed and has the ability to clear the fence with surgical precision. In addition, his medium-pacers are also quite effective; he possesses a lethal slower delivery that has foxed many international batsmen at times. However, he can also be profligate on an off-day, and is vulnerable to quality spin.
His heroics in the humdinger against T&T steered his side to a narrow win, and SRH will hope for a repeat of that performance today.
Suresh Raina (CSK – batsman and occasional off-spinner)
Suresh Raina played a brilliant innings for CSK in the last match
This guy excels in this format – there’s no doubt about it. His style is tailor-made for the fast-paced version that is T20. An outstanding fielder and more than handy off-break bowler, the UP lad is CSK’s chief weapon at No. 3.
Raina has been quite inconsistent in the international arena, but his murderous innings enabled his side to chase down the challenging total posted by the Titans in their opening encounter. Blessed with the ability to clear the fence and rotate the strike almost at will, the left-hander will be focused on going from strength to strength in today’s game.
Steyn, Ishant and Co. should target his rib-cage as it is the only way they can keep him quiet. A useful bowler, his innocuous off-spin has tied up batsmen on more than one occasion. He’s certainly a player to be watched out for!
Michael Hussey (CSK – opening batsman)
Michael Hussey has been in good form for CSK
Even after quitting international cricket, the talented Mr. Cricket has shown no signs of rustiness in his skills. Capable of dazzling strokeplay as well as ‘blue-collar cricket’ (grafting and anchoring), the elder Hussey is a permanent fixture at the top of the order for the former IPL champs.
At 38, he is still one of the quickest fielders in the side, and his work ethic has rubbed off on his colleagues. SRH should look to knock him over early if they are to entertain any hopes of winning this game.