Will skipper Dhoni continue to bat at No. 7?
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 the pieces against a confident Delhi Capitals in their third IPL encounter on Friday.
The shock defeat to 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. However, their batsmen, especially Murali Vijay, Kedar Jadhav and Dhoni, can't absolve themselves completely, .
Dhoni came in to bat at number seven in the match against Rajasthan Royals, promoting the likes of Sam Curran, Jadhav and Ruturaj Gaikwad ahead of him, 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 shows that Dhoni is unable to change gears against express pace. It was only when Tom Curran sent down his medium fast deliveries that Dhoni launched an attack. That too when the match as a contest was over.
However, unlike Sharjah, on a bigger Dubai ground, with larger boundaries, the skipper will be able to rotate the strike better 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," Delhi Capitals 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 the 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 play to watch will be pacer Mohit Sharma. While he got KL Rahul at the beginning of the innings, 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 Chennai Super Kings, which revels in attacking in the last 10 overs, the Capitals may try Harshal Patel, who is also a handy batsman at any slot, 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, was quite decent, 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 the 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: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain, wk), M Vijay, Ambati Rayudu, Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, Kedar Jadhav, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Lungi Ngidi, Deepak Chahar, Piyush Chawla, Imran Tahir, Mitchell Santner, Josh Hazlewood, Shardul Thakur, Sam Curran, N Jagadeesan, KM Asif, Monu Kumar, R Sai Kishore, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Karn Sharma.
Delhi Capitals: Shreyas Iyer (captain), Ravichandran Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Shimron Hetmyer, Kagiso Rabada, Ajinkya Rahane, Amit Mishra, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ishant Sharma, Axar Patel, Sandeep Lamichhane, Keemo Paul, Daniel Sams, Mohit Sharma, Anrich Nortje, Alex Carey (wk), Avesh Khan, Tushar Deshpande, Harshal Patel, Marcus Stoinis, Lalit Yadav.
Match begins at 7.30 pm IST