After the end of the most enthralling round-robin stage of Indian Premier League 2018 (IPL 2018) matches and IPL playoffs, M S Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings and Kane Williamson’s Sunrisers Hyderabad will square off for the summit clash on May 27. Chennai Supers Kings stormed into the final tie after facing some initial hiccups in the league stage, while SRH, despite losing last three league matches and Qualifier 1, held their nerves against Kolkata Knight Riders in Qualifier 2 to reach the IPL 2018 final. Let’s look at some of the highlights of the two teams' IPL 2018 journey so far and how despite ups and downs they remained on top of the Vivo IPL Points Points Table for most of the series.
Batting of SRH and CSK
The batting line-up of Chennai Super Kings is most formidable in IPL 2018 as their openers, middle order and lower order have contributed usefully to the team's success. In the first half of IPL 2018, Shane Watson was superb at the top of the batting order and became the second batsmen in IPL 2018 to score a century. While his opening partner Rayudu, who used as floater, also hit a magnificent ton against Sunrisers Hyderabad in league matches. Suresh Raina chipped in with some useful contribution in the latter half of IPL, scoring 413 runs at an average of 37.54, with 75 as his best score. MS Dhoni along with Dwayne Bravo played the role of finisher for CSK. Bravo’s highest score 68 runs came against Mumbai Indians in the season opener. Deepak Chahar's cameo in CSK’s last game against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) gave much-needed depth to its batting order. On the other hand, Sunrisers Hyderabad's batting was mostly dependent on captain Kane Williamson and Opener Shikhar Dhawan. Kane Williamson, who scored 688 runs in 16 matches, holds the Orange cap while Dhawan was the second best run-getter, scoring 471 runs in 15 matches with 92 as the best score. Meanwhile SRH’s middle order batsmen Manish Pandey (284), Shakib AL Hasan (216) and Yusuf Yathan (215) failed miserably. The SRH batting was mainly dependent on the cameos of players like Carlos Brathwaite’s 49 vs CSK in Qualifer 1 and Rashid Khan’s 34 in 10 balls in Qualifier 2 against Kolkata Knight Riders.
Bowling of SRH and CSK
The centre of attraction at IPL 2018 was the Sunrisers Hyderabad bowling when they defended 119 against Mumbai Indians (MI) at Wankhede. The bowling brigade led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rashid Khan restricted MI for 87 runs. Siddharth Kaul emerged as a surprise element as he effectively shared the work load of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rashid Khan and even delivered a match winning spell in the death over. Kaul took crucial breakthroughs in the powerplays and middle overs to shift the momentum in the SRH’s favour. While Rashid Khan came back strongly after thrashed for 4 sixes in an over by Gayle and emerged as the most lethal wrist spinner in the middle over, giving the impression that he can take a wicket in every over. After a match-winning performance against KKR in Qualifier-2 Rashid Khan became the leading wicket taker for SRH with 21 wickets with an economy of 6.78 while Siddhartha Kaul was at second spot with 21 wickets at an economy of 8.00. CSK bowling, on the other hand, disappointed on most occasions, as Dhoni kept looking for the perfect team combination with special focus on pace. Deepak Chahar emerged as the most important opening bowler for CSK, giving an initial jolt to opponents with his nipping inswinger and outswinger in the powerplay. It was in the last league game against Kings XI Punjab that CSK found the best bowling combination in Lungi Ngidi, Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo leading the pace attack and the spin department being spearheaded by the experienced Harbhajan Singh and Ravindra Jadeja.
The captains of both CSK and SRH led their teams from the front
Dhoni went to IPL 2018 in dismal form and critics have advised him to hang up his boots in the shortest form of cricket (T20). His performance, however, changed all that. Dhoni is currently the second highest run scorer (455 runs) for Chennai Super Kings, after Ambati Rayudu’s 586 runs in 15 matches. Dhoni played some brilliant innings to see his side home. His best show in a winning cause came against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Chasing the 206 runs, Dhoni hit 7 sixes and notched up 70 runs to seal the game. Meanwhile SRH captain Kane Williamson has been consistent and scored runs in every game, playing copy book strokes and taking the game to the business end. Williamson was not the first choice as captain. After David Warner’s role in ball tampering, the SRH franchise was forced to appoint Williamson as captain. There was widespread concern over how SRH would fare without Warner, but Williamson’s captaincy and batting (he leads the run charts with 688) ensured that the Australian was not really missed.