Dubai: Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's much-awaited promotion in the batting order will be an area of interest when Chennai Super Kings strive to pick up pieces against a confident Delhi Capitals in their third IPL encounter on Friday.
The shock defeat against Rajasthan Royals on a batting belter at Sharjah could be primarily attributed to a poor show by their spinners along with a disastrous 20th over but the batsmen can't absolve themselves completely, especially Murali Vijay, Kedar Jadhav, and the skipper himself.
Dhoni had come in to bat at number seven, promoting the likes of Sam Curran, Kedar Jadhav, and Ruturaj Gaikwad ahead of himself but the ploy backfired badly leaving Faf du Plessis with too much work in too little time.
While his fans still swear by his six-hitting ability, a closer look would show that Dhoni is unable to change the gears against express pace and it was only when Tom Curran came with his medium-fast, Dhoni launched an attack. That too when the match as a contest was over.
However on a big Dubai ground with bigger-sized boundaries, the skipper can rotate the strike better unlike Sharjah, and also take those extra deliveries to settle down.
For Delhi Capitals, winning a cliffhanger right at the onset would have given them a lot of confidence even though Ravichandran Ashwin's probable absence after a shoulder injury could force them to reshuffle their bowling line-up.
"We will take a call on Ashwin after today's practice session. He is coming for training. Our physio Patrick Farhart will take a final call," DC fielding coach Mohammed Kaif said in a pre-match presser.
Senior spinner Amit Mishra could be an option to partner Axar Patel in case Ashwin is unable to make it.
"It's a good thing that we have a ready replacement like Amit Mishra, who has a lot of experience," Kaif said about IPL's second-highest wicket-taker.
The cushion of bigger boundaries can always help a wrist spinner attack more by tossing the ball up.
Another aspect will be pacer Mohit Sharma's performance. While Mohit got KL Rahul at the beginning but his loose deliveries at the back-end made things difficult for the Capitals even as Kagiso Rabada bowled tightly at one end.
Against a side like CSK that revels in attacking the last 10 overs, the Capitals might like to try Harshal Patel, who is also a handy batsman at any number having opened in domestic cricket.
This is if Ishant Sharma, who is still nursing an ankle injury is available. "Ishant had a good run yesterday but didn't bowl. He will be again training today and then we will take a call," said Kaif.
Anrich Nortje in his first IPL game wasn't bad but left-armer Daniel Sams could create those awkward angles that batsmen dislike.
Shimron Hetmyer is likely to get one more chance unless Ricky Ponting wants to bring in some stability in the form of Alex Carey.
Talking of big hitters, Delhi has one too many in their line-up including Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, skipper Shreyas Iyer and last match's hero Marcus Stoinis, who would like to throw up an open challenge for Piyush Chawla and Ravindra Jadeja, who had a forgettable last outing.
Chennai Super Kings full squad: MS Dhoni, Imran Tahir, Lungi Ngidi, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Murali Vijay, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar, Piyush Chawla, N Jagadeesan, Mitchell Santner, KM Asif, Shardul Thakur, R Sai Kishore, Faf du Plessis, Monu Kumar, Dwayne Bravo, Josh Hazlewood, Sam Curran, Karn Sharma.
Delhi Capitals full squad: Shreyas Iyer (Captain), Prithvi Shaw, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, Daniel Sams, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra, Avesh Khan, Sandeep Lamichhane, Kagiso Rabada, Keemo Paul, Mohit Sharma, Lalit Yadav, Axar Patel, Harshal Patel, R Ashwin, Marcus Stoinis, Anrich Nortje, Rishabh Pant, Alex Carey, Shimron Hetmyer, Tushar Deshpande.
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Ravindra Jadeja, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shardul Thakur, Moeen Ali and Sam Curran are part of the CSK squad which has already started training ahead of the IPL resuming 19 September.
Punjab Kings captain Rahul is averaging 66 after seven matches this year with a strike rate of 136. The IPL was suspended in May due to COVID-19 cases in its bubble and will resume on Sunday in the UAE.
Pant was made the captain of the side after Shreyas Iyer injured his shoulder while playing in national colours just before IPL 2021.