Sunrisers Hyderabad travel to Chennai Super Kings with both sides in urgent need of a victory in the IPL, albeit for very different reasons.
Venue: JSCA International Stadium, RAnchi
Date: Thursday, May 22
Time: 3:30 p.m. BST, 8 p.m. local time
Live on: Sony Six, Star Sports HD, Star Sports 1 (India), ITV4 (United Kingdom), SuperSport (South Africa), OSN (UAE), SkyTV (New Zealand), Network Ten (Australia), Channel 9 (Bangladesh), Sportsnet and Omni (Canada), Sports Max (West Indies), Geo Super (Pakistan) and Starhub (Singapore).
Weather: Ranchi, like almost all of India at present, is roasting hot. Highs of 41C in the day will subside to as low as 26C by night, according to Accuweather, but nonetheless the temperatures will be high for the match.
In hindsight, this match may well be viewed as meaningless, but on the eve of the game there's still plenty at stake for both Chennai and Hyderabad.
For the Sunrisers, the equation is simple: Win, or hopes of taking a play-off place are over. But even with victory in their remaining two fixtures, they are still at the mercy of those above them in the standings. A victory against the illustrious Super Kings could be a notable scalp, but it may be ultimately inconsequential.
Chennai's passage to finals week is already secured, but they have a different issue. With three defeats in their last five matches, the Super Kings have lost their way just as the tournament gets to the business end.
Another loss could be morale-damaging—but again, given the wealth of experience in the team, it may not prove an obstacle to summoning two big performances to win another IPL crown.
7th season! 7th time in play-offs! Good Morning Lions! #7outof7— Chennai Super Kings (@ChennaiIPL) May 21, 2014
Chennai romped to a straightforward victory when the two sides met earlier this year—but that was a month ago now, when the tournament was in the United Arab Emirates, and in an altogether different environment.
The home side will have to restructure in the absence of Brendon McCullum, who, as per the official IPL website, is returning to New Zealand for the birth of his child. It could allow West Indies spinner Samuel Badree to feature, however—he has been under-used in the tournament so far.
Sunrisers Hyderabad have no such absentees, but they will have to think about their batting order. In theory, the decision to continue opening with Shikhar Dhawan and David Warner—paired together at last in their previous game—is a simple one, but they have struggled to balance the duo and Aaron Finch.
Chennai Super Kings
He's in form, full of experience and the lynch pin of the CSK middle order. Suresh Raina will be expected to deliver for his team, especially given the loss of McCullum. Is there even a case to be made for promoting him to open the innings in the Kiwi skipper's place?
Bhuvneshwar Kumar has 20 wickets at 14 apiece so far this season, while maintaining an exemplary economy rate. No seamer has grasped the conditions better and, if he starts off quick again, the Super Kings could suddenly find themselves in a very uncomfortable place.
Chennai Super Kings
MS Dhoni*†, B Aparajith, R Ashwin, S Badree, F du Plessis, JW Hastings, MJ Henry, BW Hilfenhaus, DJ Hussey, RA Jadeja, BB McCullum, M Manhas, RG More, P Negi, A Nehra, IC Pandey, SK Raina, V Shankar,MM Sharma, DR Smith
DJG Sammy*, S Anirudha, A Ashish Reddy, RK Bhui, S Dhawan, AJ Finch, MC Henriques, JO Holder, MC Juneja, B Kumar, CV Milind, A Mishra, NV Ojha†, P Parameswaran, Parvez Rasool, IK Pathan, AG Paunikar, KL Rahul, I Sharma, KV Sharma, DW Steyn, BRM Taylor, Y Venugopal Rao, DA Warner
Squad data via ESPNCricinfo.