SHARJAH: First points are always good. But just a day after registering their first win in this Indian Premier League (IPL), Sunrisers Hyderabad are faced with the worrying prospect of facing a red-hot Chennai Super Kings (CSK) machinery that, just like every season, is steam-rolling other teams into submission. Sunrisers' top three clicked for the first time in the match against Delhi Daredevils, bettering their previous-best total of this season by 51 runs, but life is not likely to be as comfortable against the yellows. Shikhar Dhawan, Aaron Finch and David Warner, all got vital runs to boost their confidence but there were extended periods in the match against Daredevils when they looked short on fluency. The good news for Sunrisers is that they rode those spells as how the three perform against the impressive trio of CSK seamers and their steady spinners is going to be critical for them.
More important perhaps is going to be how Sunrisers' bowlers deal with CSK's batsmen. The sight of Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum can send sepulchral chill waves among bowlers early, so a lot will depend on if Dale Steyn raises his game a notch. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been impressive and can draw on the success he had against Smith in the recent World T20 match. Big efforts will also be needed from their stars from last season - legspinners Amit Mishra and Karn Sharma. CSK, on the other hand, are a confident bunch. Their batting is firing, their bowling doesn't have any weaknesses their fielding remains one of the best in the tournament and they have never lost a game to Sunrisers. They just need to ensure no complacency sets in.
Amit Mishra spun an un-breachable web around batsmen during the recent Asia Cup and in the first round of matches in the World T20, fuelling questions about why he was not regular in the national side in the first place. But after overstepping once during the semi-final against South Africa, something has gone amiss. He is not able to control the flow of runs. He went wicket-less against Daredevils and was torn apart in the match before that too. It's a big game now and Dhawan needs his trump card to find his mojo again.
Faf du Plessis is the only CSK batsman in top four not to score a half-century till now. But apart from one match - against Rajasthan Royals - the lack of runs from his bat hasn't really affected the team as the openers have been brilliant. There is no immediate threat to his place in the team - MS Dhoni likes to stick to his XI - but du Plessis needs some runs to fortify the team's batting further.
AUCKLAND: When good neighbours become good friends. Perhaps not on Saturday (today) at Eden Park ...