Chennai Super Kings v Delhi Capitals
Friday May 10, 15:00
Live on BT Sport and Star Gold (Sky channel 729)
Have CSK's senior men got anything left in the tank?
At the beginning of IPL 2019 I expressed a concern that CSK, despite being packed with quality, were getting a little long in the tooth. They were incredible during the opening rounds this season as they swept aside the Royal Challengers and Delhi with dominant displays.
But my fear that some old legs might weaken has not been unfounded as the tournament progresses. The top order batting has been inconsistent with Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, and Kedar Jadhav all failing to find their best form, whilst Faf du Plessis never seens far from an injury lay-off. Chennai's top order failed miserably in Qualifier 1 against Mumbai, lumbering to 32 for three at the end of the powerplay overs.
The final total of 131 for four was well within Mumbai's compass despite some customary lusty blows from MS Dhoni. Even CSK's captain and talisman has been struggling with injury this season. Not that you'd know it as he's blasted 405 runs at an incredible average of 133. When he finally retires CSK have enormous shoes to fill.
Chennai head into this crunch game without Kedar Jadhav (shoulder) and it is likely that Murali Vijay will deputise. As skipper, Dhoni has been blessed with a spin bowling attack with Imran Tahir (23 wickets) capable of changing any game. Deepak Chahar (17 wickets) has spearheaded the seam attack. The lack of pace in the Vizag pitch should play into their hands, but they need a bigger team performance than they offered up against Mumbai if they are to earn a rematch in the final.
Capitals young guns firing ahead of their biggest test
In contrast to CSK, Delhi Capitals have a side packed with young talent who have risen to the challenge. The rebrand does appear to have rid the franchise of previous failures as they make the Play=Offs for the first time in seven seasons. They head into the Chennai challenge in confident mood after already posting their most impressive season to date.
Shikhar Dhawan (503 runs) has returned to Delhi and added much needed experience at the top of the batting order. With young skipper Shreyas Iyer (450) and the slippery talent of Rishabh Pant (450) also firing in the middle-order they have earned a reputation of being superb chasers. And don't forget Prithvi Shaw, one of the stars of India's future, has scored 350 runs in the competition so far. They may be young but they possess a big-stage mentality.
The loss of South African Kagiso Rabada has so far not been a problem, but any side would miss a 25-wicket fast bowler of his pedigree. Ishant Sharma appears to have filled the breach and Keemo Paul is a youngster to look out for. The tight win against Sunrisers on Wednesday is another boost for Delhi's belief as they take their youthful exuberance to try and oust CSK, the most followed side in the competition.
If Delhi bat second they are a great play
Five out of the seven games played in Visakhapatnam have been won by the team batting second, so the toss could be crucial, particularly if it results in CSK batting first. Delhi have been fantastic chasing in IPL 2019 and I'd really fancy them to cause an upset if they field first.
CSK lead the head-to-head record with Delhi by 14-6, but that's a stat I'm tempted to ignore as this is a different Delhi. This season CSK won the Delhi match by six wickets and won the return match by 80 runs. History is against me, but I fancy Delhi to win this game and at 2.0811/10 are a great price, particularly if batting second.
If taking a punt on CSK's top batsman, MS Dhoni is your man. He has outscored all of his senior batsmen this season, is never shy of a challenge and he has made it his mission to haul CSK as far as he possibly can. That is why Chennai fans adore the man and why I love the massive 6/1 on him top scoring again. It's the value bet and has every chance.
There are more choices in the Capitals batting market. I've already mentioned that their top order has enjoyed a trenendous IPL so far and you can be forgiven for taking Shikhar Dhawan, Privthi Shaw or Rishabh Pant to top score. But I'm a sucker for the bigger price and that is why my stake goes on captain Shreyas Iyer at the bigger price of 4/1.
And for my final bet of IPL 2019, I'm picking three Man of the Match contenders at great prices. All three of game changers and if it it turns out to be their day we land a decent punt. My selections are Imran Tahir at 11/1, powerhouse Sherfane Rutherford 20/1 and Dwayne Bravo 11/1. Just half-stakes plays here.
Thanks for following my IPL 2019 tips. It's been a great tournament and we've made some money. We stand to land a little more of my start-of-tournament tip of Mumbai Indians to lift the trophy comes good too.
Follow James on Twitter @cricket_badger