Sunrisers eye semi-final berth

Hyderabad, (IANS): Undefeated on home turf so far, Sunrisers Hyderabad will look to cementing their position for a berth in the playoffs when they clash against Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Rajiv Gandhi international cricket stadium on Wednesday.

Looking for a sixth consecutive win at home, Sunrisers will go all out for two crucial points to move up the points table.

With 14 points from 11 matches, the home team is in fifth position because of its relatively low net run rate.

Though CSK top the table with 18 points from 12 matches, their humiliating defeat at the hands of Mumbai Indians in their last match has exposed the vulnerability of their batting.

With their lethal bowling power, Sunrisers will look to keeping batsmen like Michael Hussey, Suresh Raina and Mahendra Singh Dhoni under check. The back-to-back wins at home against mighty Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils have boosted the morale of the team.

Sunrisers will once again rely on their bowlers to deliver for them on a slow track, where the average score this IPL has been 124.

Both Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma have been bowling with a lot of fire and have been well supported by Thisara Perera and Darren Sammy. The spinning duo of Amit Mishra and Karan Sharma have already showed their match-winning performances.

For Sunrisers, whose initial wins were largely contributed by their bowlers, the batting has also started clicking. All eyes will be once again on Shikhar Dhawan, whose aggressive knocks at the top, have bolstered the team's batting.

Dhawan's quickfire 22 helped the team beat Daredevils convincingly with six wickets, after the bowlers bundled out Daredevils for 80 in their last match.

The left-hander had scored an unbeaten 74 against Mumbai Indians to guide the home side to a comprehensive seven-wicket win. The win was a morale booster for the team after their two losses in a row in away matches. In the four matches he has played so far this season, Dhawan, who made a comeback after an injury, has scored two unbeaten half centuries.

The other opener Parthiv Patel, who has been in and out of the team because of his poor form, will be under pressure to deliver. Local boy Hanuma Vihari, with his valuable contributions in a couple of matches, will be another key player to watch out for.

The home side also expects useful contributions from Kumar Sangakkara, Perera and Sammy, who was man-of-the match in the game against Daredevils with two for 10 and an unbeaten 18.

Overjoyed with the recent wins, Sunrisers chief mentor Krishnamachari Srikkanth already sees the semifinal ahead.

"Two to three more matches (wins) and we are there straightaway. But still we can't be overconfident. We have to take it match by match," he said.

CSK may not find the going easy against Sunrisers, who are taking full advantage of the home conditions. The visitors, who were going great guns with seven wins in a row, were shocked by the crushing defeat at the hands of Mumbai Indians at Mumbai two days ago.

Dhoni's team was bundled out for 79, the lowest score this season, while chasing a target of 140.

The fact that no team could cross 130 at this ground this season and the likes of Chris Gayle, Rohit Sharma, Virender Sehwag and David Warner failed to fire, makes things more difficult for Chennai.

The slow pitch, however, may also offer help to CSK bowlers, especially Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohit Sharma to give a good fight.

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