Chennai, April 30 (IANS) Red hot from their stunning win against the Kochi Tuskers earlier in the week, the Deccan Chargers seem to have tasted blood and would be looking to put it across hosts Chennai Super Kings in a crucial Indian Premier League game here Sunday night.
As the race for the top four positions hots up, last year’s champions Super Kings are on eight points after seven games while the Chargers, winners in 2009, have six, also from seven outings. In the event, both would be desperate to pick up points that will take them closer to the playoffs.
Seamer Ishant Sharma’s return to form is possibly the best news that the Chargers have had this season. The fast bowler, attempting to regain his premier position in the Indian Test team, destroyed Kochi (74 all out) in an inspired two-over spell, capturing an astonishing five wickets as the Chargers defended 129.
In fact, the spell was reminiscent of Ishant’s exploits against the Australians three seasons ago when he rightfully claimed Ricky Ponting as his bunny. In the event, the Chargers would be hoping that the 22-year old continues to ride the success wave in this season’s IPL.
The refurbished Chargers can now boast of the sharpest, if not the best, new ball attack in the tournament with Ishant bowling in harness with the ‘South African Express’ Dale Steyn who is a handful even on the flat sub-continental tracks.
The two will be crucial to Chargers’ obvious strategy of keeping the much-heralded batting line-up of the Super Kings on a short leash, but they need to be far more consistent.
Likewise, the Super Kings too are on a high following three wins in a row, including two back-to-back against cellar-dwellers Pune Warriors that jettisoned their otherwise up-and-down campaign.
In the process, the Super Kings bowling, often viewed as the chink in their armour, has attained the much-needed sharpness with Aussie fast bowler Doug Bollinger being the spearhead, backed by the ever-improving off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, but then, other bowlers have bled runs leading to the three defeats.
The Super Kings fielding too has gone up a few notches, thus giving the team a well-rounded and settled appearance. However, they need to sustain the new-found exuberance over the next four weeks when the competition gains in intensity.
In batting, the Super Kings no doubt come out on top, man-to-man and also as a collective unit with all their top four, Michael Hussey, Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina and Subramaniam Badrinath, having notched half-centuries.
On the other hand, the Chargers have not shown the kind of dynamism to match their bowling. Skipper Kumar Sangakkara, their mainstay in batting, has scored but one half-century besides a clutch of 30s while others have been rather inconsistent.
The Chargers would be looking up to Sangakkara for inspiration, who unlike his Super Kings counterpart Mahendra Singh Dhoni, hasn’t quite got the team together, following the large scale overhaul ahead of the current season.
By the looks of it, the Super Kings whose three of the four wins this season have come at Chepauk, start off as overwhelming favourites if only because of their superior batting.