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November 19 2019
IPL 5: Can Chennai dodge Delhi bullet?
25 May 2012

CHENNAI: The tables have turned yet again. MS Dhoni's Chennai, a team that was looking jaded and off-colour just a week back, is now flying high after defeating Mumbai. Now they come up against Delhi, who were title favourites until they were stopped in their tracks by Gautam Gambhir's Kolkata. 

There isn't anything significantly wrong with Delhi, but the minor flaws are being exposed at crucial junctures. Teams have come to realise that if Sehwag and David Warner can be removed early, the batting firepower can be doused. Mahela Jayawardene, despite his fantastic skills, isn't the most destructive in this format and Ross Taylor has been a pale shadow of his former self. 

Chennai were quick to probe these deficiencies when the two teams met in the group stages. They had specific plans for Viru and Warner and once the duo got out, Delhi struggled to reach 120. They will look to repeat the ploy on Friday with Ben Hilfenhaus swinging it around in the initial stages. 

Delhi have an injury issue with Irfan Pathan being hit on his right hand, but the team management informed that he will play on Friday. The only probable change in the line-up will be left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem coming in place of Varun Aaron, but a final decision on that will only be taken on the day of the game. 

Chennai won't be in a mood to make any changes. While Mike Hussey and S Badrinath were excellent against Mumbai, Dhoni coming into his own at such a crucial juncture is only going to make them stronger. 

"Badri is always a very effective player for us. He and Hussey were great (against Mumbai), allowing the lower middle-order players to express themselves," Dhoni said after the match. 

But the team knows that it was a special performance on Wednesday that won them the match and coach Stephen Fleming, too, is a touch cautious. 

He understands that it's not too easy to replicate such performances overnight, but given the sudden-death scenario they are in, there aren't any options either. 

"It was a brilliant show by the guys and we have to do it all over again against Delhi in just over 24 hours. But then, that's how it goes and we have to be up for it," Fleming said. 

The pitch, too, at Chepauk is a bit of a worry, but the team management claims that they have got used to it by now. Three home losses are history and the entire unit is drawing strength from their emphatic performance against Delhi. 

Moreover, every Chennai fan knows that there's something called Lady Luck that has been on their side. Three results went in favour of them and that's why they are still alive. 

Now it's a matter of one good innings or one inspired bowling spell that will bring them within striking distance of making it a hat-trick of titles.

 

 

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