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Match facts
Chennai v Delhi, Chennai
Thursday, April 15
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)

Big Picture

Time is running out for Delhi Daredevils, faster than their batsmen are running out themselves. In three consecutive games, needless run-outs have sparked decisive batting collapses, resulting in defeats. Worse, the culprits - Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag - are usually reliable between the wickets. However, there is more to Delhi's travails than poor running; Amit Mishra, David Warner and Paul Collingwood, who were central to Delhi's surge earlier in the tournament, have not quite turned up for the crunch games. In the three recent reversals, Mishra's 11 overs have yielded 1 for 86, while Warner and Collingwood have contributed 37 and eight runs respectively.

Somehow Gambhir's men need to overcome their woes and grab two points on Thursday. Thanks to better times before the slump, they are still in the top four, but Deccan and Rajasthan have a realistic chance to pull them down. Bangalore's hammering of Rajasthan on Wednesday has played into Delhi's hands, but defeat tomorrow could restore parity. It would then require Delhi to beat the in-form Deccan, possibly by a good margin, to get the final spot in the semis. Delhi would prefer the security of increasing their points-tally, than rely on the fickle decimal-places in the net run-rate. Moving up to third spot would mean Delhi don't have to face red-hot Mumbai in the semis, and that's another incentive to win tomorrow.

The task ahead of Delhi promises to be difficult, given the opposition, and the venue. With their supporters getting behind them, Chennai have struck the right notes at the MA Chidambaram stadium, where they have now won four on the trot. Despite failures from their two biggest overseas players, they blew away Kolkata on Tuesday, to boost their run-rate significantly. That victory followed three contrasting wins against strong sides, where different members of the team stood up to tackle tough situations. Against Bangalore, the bowlers came back well to set up a gettable chase. Vijay and Albie Morkel turned it on with the bat to put it past Rajasthan on a flat track, before the team fired collectively to defy the mighty Mumbai outfit. The away loss against Deccan was an aberration, and worryingly for Delhi, Chennai look unlikely to repeat mistakes from that match. These two teams may be tied on points, but Chennai are significantly ahead on both net run-rate and confidence.

Form guide (most recent first)

Chennai Super Kings WLWWW
Delhi Daredevils LLLWW

Team talk

Chennai have a tough call to make over Muttiah Muralitharan's spot. He was the weakest link in the victory against Kolkata, and may have to go, given how well Ashwin and Shadab Jakati have done. MS Dhoni could strengthen the suspect middle order by bringing in either Michael Hussey or Justin Kemp.

Andrew McDonald was ripped apart by Kieron Pollard in the loss to Mumbai, and may have to make way for the world's best left-arm spinner. After watching Ashwin's exploits against Kolkata, Daniel Vettori will be eager to get a bowl on this track. AB de Villiers came back for the previous game, but could not get going. These are desperate times for Delhi, will they gamble by giving Tillakaratne Dilshan another chance?


Chennai 3 Delhi 2
In previous seasons, these sides have traded blows equally, a fact that augurs well for Delhi who lost the first encounter this year. Chennai's fielders turned in a tigerish performance, with Kemp and Raina taking blinders, to pull Delhi back to 185 after a ballistic start. Matthew Hayden then mauled Delhi's bowlers with the Mongoose to seal the win.

In the spotlight

Since that game in Delhi, Matthew Hayden has had an IPL to forget. The wickets have slowed down through the course of the tournament, and he has struggled for timing, the Mongoose's extra power notwithstanding. His little new weapon has generated more hype than results. Hayden prides himself on topping the run-charts in every global Twenty20 tournament he has been a part of - the 2007 World Twenty20 and IPL 2009. He's unlikely to repeat the feat this year, but Hayden is not the type who will concede defeat without trying.

He has been spot on with his team selection and bowling changes, but as a batsman MS Dhoni has been under-par. He blasted Chennai to their first win of the tournament before being forced out by injury for the next few games. The team's fortunes changed for the better with his return, but he has not contributed much with the bat. An in-form Dhoni is critical to Chennai's prospects, given the inexperience and lack of muscle in the lower middle-order. The captain has a reputation for turning it on when it matters, both in the IPL and at the international level, and Delhi will be concerned that he is due. Pragyan Ojha eliminated him with a wonderful over in Nagpur, and Amit Mishra should feature centrally in Delhi's plans to keep Dhoni quiet.

Prime numbers

* With 787 runs between them, Suresh Raina and M Vijay occupy the third and fourth spots in the race for the purple cap. 423 of those runs have come in the last four home games

* Dirk Nannes and Paul Collingwood have conceded 6.51 and 6.59 runs respectively per over this season. They are the third and fourth most economical among bowlers who have sent down at least 10 overs. Ashwin is sixth, while Doug Bollinger is ninth on that list.

The chatter

"The way Raina and Vijay chased down 140 was good, it is a bit of a worry that the middle order is not getting enough practice!"
MS Dhoni tries hard to find negatives from a flawless performance.

"We got to win both games now, so maybe that [the loss against Mumbai] is a blessing in disguise."
Gautam Gambhir does the exact opposite.

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