A heavyweight battle is in store when the Chennai Super Kings and the Sunrisers Hyderabad do battle in the Champions League T20 at M.S. Dhoni's home ground - the JSCA International Cricket Stadium in Ranchi.
CSK opener Michael Hussey during the CLT20 match against the Titans, September 22
Both sides were impressive in their opening matches in the CLT20, with CSK showing their batting prowess in spades by chasing down a huge total against the Titans, while the Sunrisers came back from the brink in another brilliant batting display against Trinidad & Tobago.
CSK and the Sunrisers - the two IPL sides of the group - are the favourites to move into the semifinals, and a win against their fellow IPL side will go a long way in making that last-four spot a reality.
The Chennai Super Kings, of course have more experience in playing in the CLT20 and are also former winners of the tournament.
If you look at their squad, it is hard to find a single flaw. The batting looks solid, with Michael Hussey leading from the front at the top, while Suresh Raina is there to come it at No.3 and lend a hand whenever necessary. They then have the likes of Dhoni, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja and Albie Morkel to finish things up towards the end.
Their bowling is equally strong with spinners and fast bowlers of the ilk of R Ashwin, Jason Holder and Chris Morris at Dhoni's disposal.
The Sunrisers, as is the case with most IPL teams, also have a pretty strong squad, who are a well-knit unit and as the previous game proved never give up even when the odds seem to be stacked against them.
"We're talking about Sunrisers here -- we never say never, we never give up and do not accept defeat until the last ball is bowled," Darren Sammy told CLT20.com. "We knew we needed something extraordinary to win from that position, but with the talent that we have, we back ourselves to win from any situation."
In the captain's stakes as well, CSK have the upperhand with the seasoned and been-there-done-it-all Dhoni at the helm, while the Sunrisers have a relative novice in Shikhar Dhawan, although he is never short of help.
"Shikhar is a cool guy," Sammy said. "Yes, he is the captain but if you come in our dressing room, you'll see that everybody thinks like a captain. At the end of the day Shikhar will make the decisions, but he is never short of advice.
"Because he is so cool and calm, he will most often make the right decisions for us. But there's help always available around him, and he knows that."
If the Sunrisers are to beat CSK on Thursday, it will be a first after the Hyderabad side lost both the league games last season in the IPL. There is no better time than the present, however, to pick up a few firsts.
Where to watch
The match is scheduled for an 8 p.m. (IST) start, with the pre-match coverage beginning on Star Sports, Star Cricket (Hindi) and Star Cricket HD from 7 p.m. You can also catch the action online by clicking the official link HERE.
Squads: CSK: M.S. Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Murali Vijay, Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin, Subramaniam Badrinath, Imtiaz Ahmed, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohit Sharma, Michael Hussey, Dwayne Bravo, Albie Morkel, Jason Holder, Francois Du Plessis, Chris Morris.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Shikhar Dhawan, Parthiv Patel, Cameron White, JP Duminy, Dale Steyn, Biplab Samantray, Thisara Perera, Karan Sharma, Hanuma Vihari, Ashish Reddy, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Darren Sammy, Anand Rajan, Clint McKay.
Prediction: CSK are too strong for the Sunrisers in a nail-biter.
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