A file photo Photograph:( PTI )
The first qualifier of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 will be held between the two best teams of the eleventh season - Hyderabad and Chennai - at Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday.
Hyderabad ended on top of the IPL 2018 Points Table with 18 points, while Chennai finished second, by run-rate.
The ‘Yellow Brigade’ returned to winning ways after defeating R Ashwin-led Punjab by five wickets in the last league match, while Hyderabad’s campaign toppled as they lost their last three games played against Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata.
The MS Dhoni-led team has beaten the Kane Williamson outfit on both occasions that they have previously met this year in the league stage.
As the winner sails straight into the final slated for May 27, the match promises to be quite a contest.
Throughout the tournament, Hyderabad have been overtly dependent on skipper Kane Williamson.
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He has been in red-hot form to rise to the number two slot in the leading run-getters' list with 661 runs.
Kane along with opener Shikhar Dhawan, who took some time to get going, have shown consistency with the bat. The left-handed batsman has made 437 runs which includes four half-centuries.
Meanwhile, their bowling attack is in contrast to their batting ways.
Barring the last few games, the bowlers’ capability to defend paltry totals have been the talking point of the season.
They have Sidharth Kaul and Sandeep Sharma to rely on. Overseas spinners Rashid Khan and Shakib Al Hasan add depth to their line.
The advantage they have over Chennai is their death-overs specialist Bhuvneshwar Kumar. MS Dhoni is yet to find one for his team.
Chennai, on the other hand, have a plus point that they are not dependent on selected players, although Ambati Rayudu has been their standout performer with 586 runs.
Shane Watson, 438 runs, too has been in top form along with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The form of key batsman Suresh Raina, who anchored the innings splendidly against Punjab with an unbeaten 61, is another encouraging sign.
The outstanding spell of South African Lungi Ngidi, who grabbed 4 for 10 to take the man of the match award last night, could not have come at a more opportune time for the Super Kings.
With Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar and Dwayne Bravo doing their bit on the pace bowling front, Chennai will be banking on spin twins Harbhajan Singh and Ravindra Jadeja to deliver in the middle overs.
Meanwhile, a win here will take Chennai to their seventh IPL final, since its inception, while the loser the loser will be playing Qualifier 2 in Kolkata on May 25.