By Jaideep Varma and Jatin Thakkar
Delhi Daredevils topped the league table but were not amongst even the four highest-ranked sides this IPL before the playoffs began (though they were the second-highest impact side amongst those who made the playoffs).
Chennai Super Kings had an even lower impact, and they were certainly lucky to make it to the playoffs, as a combination of other results went in their favour.
Both teams responded very differently to their first match in the playoffs. DD crumbled under pressure - their batting and bowling faltered, and the highest impact players failed - the death knell for a side that relies on individual brilliance more than any other side in this IPL. CSK started badly but clawed back brilliantly and even took the advantage through individual brilliance, after which the whole team responded with fire to take the match out.
The story of this match is not likely to be any different. Here is the Impact Index comparison.
DD have a higher Batting and Bowling IMPACT but a lower Team IMPACT for exactly the same reason as what it was against KKR. DD have more high impact specialised bowlers and batsmen but on an all-round basis, CSK go ahead. They have 4 all-rounders in Bravo, A Morkel, Raina and Jadeja whereas DD has just one - I Pathan.
Given their respective performances in a big match scenario (the one playoff they both played in), CSK goes even more ahead (as the numbers show). As indicated above, CSK have 15 players in their squad who have performed in big matches while DD have 10. And when you look at likely XIs, then CSK has 9 tournament-defining players whereas DD has 4 - a big difference.
So, CSK clearly have a better chance if both teams scrap on an even keel right through the match. The only chance DD have is by taking the lead through individual brilliance - for the scale required, it is only really likely from Warner and Sehwag (and maybe Taylor and Morne Morkel, to a lesser extent).
CSK has no such issues - most of their players are capable of winning the match on their steam (and have done so in the past, in big matches too).
CSK's big problem is bowling - they have only one bowler with an IMPACT of over 1.5 and that is Hilfenhaus (Kulasekara does too, but he can't get into the side because of the foreign players quota of 4). Ashwin has been lacklustre overall, as has Bollinger (he has since gone back to Australia).
Bravo, Jakati and Albie Morkel did do well in the first playoff but it may be too much to expect similar performances from them again going by their recent record. DD too depends on Morne Morkel and Umesh Yadav, and now Negi. Moreover, it is not clear if Irfan Pathan will play (split webbing doesn't heal so soon). Overall, however, DD's bowlers have registered much more impact than CSK's have.
Given CSK's bowling issues, DD's batting strength could have the biggest say in the match - besides their high impact openers, there are Jayawardene, Ojha and Taylor to provide good support (but they have high failure rates this year, which does not augur well).
DD has chased well this season, better than CSK have. Chennai as a venue does not favour chasing though - in the last 2 seasons, only 29% of teams have won chasing. Given that, and given that this is a big match scenario, there is no doubt that both teams will prefer to bat first if they win the toss.
The only doubt is whether CSK have the same hunger that made them champions twice, and they certainly seemed to against MI. So, this should go CSK's way unless, as elaborated on above, individual brilliance from Sehwag and/or Warner is forthcoming. It is hard to see how they can play without immense pressure on them, which can't be a good thing for DD.
If DD bat first, and Sehwag and Warner start well, it could be DD's match. Otherwise, it does look like CSK will defend their title in front of their home-crowd.
For more information, please go to www.impactindexcricket.com