Chennai: The wretched form of Chennai Super Kings' (CSK) top three will be a primary worry for Mahendra Singh Dhoni as Chennai Super Kings aims to arrest the mini slide when they take on Sunrisers Hyderabad in an Indian Premier League encounter here on Tuesday.
If CSK's problem is the non-performance of the top-order, Sunrisers Hyderabad's (SRH) issues are that there are no performers in the middle-order with the bulk of the runs being scored by openers David Warner (517 runs) and Jonny Bairstow (445 runs).
A win will almost ensure a playoff berth for the defending champions, who lost back-to-back away matches against Sunrisers Hyderabad and RCB respectively.
While Dhoni's Herculean effort to pull off another miraculous chase has been the talking point, it is difficult not to shed light on the poor show of CSK's top three which is putting the skipper under unimaginable pressure.
Last season's hero Shane Watson (147 runs), Ambati Rayudu (192) and Suresh Raina (207) haven't lived up to the expectations. The pressure has been entirely on Dhoni, who leads the charts with 314 runs and the batting unit needs to step up.
"The top three needs to finish more matches," Dhoni said after CSK's one-run loss to RCB on Sunday.
Back at its den after a schedule of away games, Dhoni's men will be slight favourites as it will be Bairstow's last game for the last year's runners-up as he heads back to England for World Cup preparations.
The Chepauk pitch has been sluggish in the games played so far and coach Stephen Fleming attributed it to being one of the reasons for top-order's poor show.
"We played on Chennai tracks, where it is a little bit difficult to find form. We are being a little bit reckless and that comes about from guys who want to find form and do the job, but what is happening is we are relying heavily on Dhoni and Rayudu to patch things up and we won't win the competition if this continues," Fleming sounded a warning.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (captain & WK), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Murali Vijay, Kedar Jadhav, Sam Billings, Ravindra Jadeja, Dhruv Shorey, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Rituraj Gaikwad, Dwayne Bravo, Karn Sharma, Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Santner, Shardul Thakur, Mohit Sharma, K M Asif, Deepak Chahar, N Jagadeesan (wk), Scott Kuggeleijn.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Kane Williamson (capt), Basil Thampi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Hooda, Manish Pandey, T Natarajan, Ricky Bhui, Sandeep Sharma, Siddarth Kaul, Shreevats Goswami, Khaleel Ahmed, Yusuf Pathan, Billy Stanlake, David Warner, Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, Shakib Al Hasan, Jonny Bairstow, Wriddhiman Saha, Martin Guptill, Vijay Shankar, Abhishek Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem.
Match starts at 8 pm.
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Under Warner, SRH lost five out of six games and he himself hasn't been in greatest of form which led to Kane Williamson being handed the reins.
The 28-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman's unbeaten knocks of 82 and 91 in the first and third matches have helped him gain five slots to reach 10th position, overtaking the likes of England captain Eoin Morgan and India opener Rohit Sharma.
Sack him as captain if you must, but as a batsman David Warner's name should have been one of the first on the team sheet.