The Indian Premier League 2018 playoffs kick off with the ‘REAL’ Best vs Best contest – not just for the best two teams of the season, but also the best competitors and impactful players.
The analysts will term the IPL 2018 Qualifier as Chennai Super Kings’ batting versus SunRisers Hyderabad’s bowling. Still, the Hyderabad skipper Kane Williams is well on course to become the best batsman for the IPL season 2018 – marginally behind Rishabh Pant in the race for the Orange Cap. Shikhar Dhawan more than 200 runs short off his skipper in the IPL 2018 aggregate score is playing the second lead to Williamson for keeping the SunRisers Hyderabad ahead on the IPL points table.
The CSK batting is a team effort, dominated by resurgent Ambati Rayudu and MS Dhoni as Shane Watson provides an able support. The Insidesport report card of the trump cards leaves the two fancied rivals evenly poised.
CHENNAI SUPER KINGS
Rayudu, ranked No. 4 four on both Moneyball Impact Points and on leagues’ top scorers table, has piled up 586 runs from 14 matches, averaging 45.7, strike rate 153.4 and a century to his credit. But it is skipper MS Dhoni who has regained that charisma of the finisher, which makes him one of the biggest success stories of world cricket. He might not have scored as many runs as Rayudu, but Dhoni has seldom left the crease without finishing the task.
His 446 from 14 matches, show him behind eight other batsmen on top scorers list, but Dhoni has remained unconquered on nine of the fourteen opportunities. He tops the chart for best averages with 89.20. The Chennai skipper is back with that magical touch – dealing more in sixes (30) than fours (23) this season. His presence, whether in front on behind the wickets, is as assurance that CSK is in safe hands.
The late arrival of Lungi Ngidi has also given the Yellow Tigers’ bowling a much-needed boost. From five matches, Ngidi has bagged nine wickets. His success comes at crucial and decisive moments. At 6.11 he is the most economical bowler for the tournament. He is No. two in strike rate (12) and at the third position in average (12.22) for taking wickets.
A look the MONEYBALL ratings, makes the trio the best bet for the CSK success.
Kane Williamson is leading the SunRisers Hyderabad from the front. But for the shock exit of David Warner, Williamson might have just been one of the overseas acquisitions of the SRH. He might not have had a regular place among the permitted four players in the XI. Williamson did not just rise to the occasion, he has also lifted his team to the top. His statistics for 14 matches (661 run, 54.91 average, 158.41 strike rate) establishes that the SunRisers Hyderabad captain only needs a supporting act to keep his team afloat. That is coming from the seasoned opener Shikhar Dhawan (13 matches, 437 runs, 43.7 average, 139.61 strike rate).
The team has two in-form bowlers in Siddharth Kaul (17 wickets from 14 matches) and Rashid Khan (14 matches, 16 wickets); but in the crucial game reliance will be on the experience of Bhubaneswar Kumar, whose success this season might not have reflected on the scoreboard as much as it has impacted the games.
The game today (Tuesday) will give both the teams and their Trump Cards yet another day to live, irrespective of the result. The winner will be through to the final and the loser will have the option of a slightly longer route via second eliminator. But these two teams and their star players have been the biggest impact on the IPL 2018 so far.