Languishing at the bottom of the table, defending champions Chennai Super Kings require victory by a big margin to keep their hopes of making the semifinals of the Champions League Twenty20 alive when they take on New South Wales on Tuesday.
Despite being placed at the bottom of group A, the Super Kings still have a chance to proceed to the next stage as their pool heads into its final round of matches with no team still assured of a semifinal berth.
Topping the group are Mumbai Indians, who have overcome a debilitating injury situation to be at the forefront with five points. However, because of their poor run rate in the series so far, even they are yet to be assured of a place in the last four berth.
Next in the list is the Australian outfit NSW with four points, followed by Cape Cobras with three.
Trinidad and Tobago, who managed to get the better of the Super Kings on Sunday, are in the fourth place with two points.
The Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led CSK, also on two points, bring up the rear by virtue of an inferior net run rate.
Now, a defeat on Tuesday to either Cobras or NSW, will ensure Mumbai’s progression to the semifinal, while forming a three-way tie among NSW, CSK and T&T — all with four points each — meaning the calculation will come down to run rate.
NSW though could progress to the semifinals as group winners with six points if they manage to win in their crucial match against CSK on Tuesday.
It is high time for Chennai to live up to their reputation of being one of the strongest and well-balanced teams in the tournament and convincingly outplay NSW on Tuesday to have any chance of defending their title.
With only one win from three games, CSK have the sword to their throat and they would need to play out of their skins to counter NSW, who are tough customers, having a perfectly balanced unit.
Simon Katich’s side would look to take advantage of the fact that CSK are yet to find their usual rhythm and except for opener Michael Hussey, the other batsmen still look good only on paper.
While the bowlers, including Ravichandran Ashwin, are yet to get into their rhythm.
On Sunday, the bowlers failed to arrest Kevon Cooper’s aggressive scoring of 28 runs from just 10 balls in their match against T&T and another such patchy show would mean that the doors would be shut on them.
On the other hand, NSW with two wins from three games, have put up good performances and have worked as a team despite losing to Cobras in their opening game.
In their second match, NSW made a sensational fightback by smashing 16 runs in the final over before defeating T&T via the Super Over Eliminator in a dramatic game. They then went on to register a victory against Mumbai Indians after being 28/5, chasing 101.
A repeat of those performances would put the hosts under tremendous pressure.
Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Capt.), R Ashwin, S Badrinath, Doug Bollinger, Dwayne Bravo, Michael Hussey, Shadab Jakati, Albie Morkel, Suresh Raina, Suraj Randiv, Wriddhiman Saha, S Anirudha, Tim Southee, Scott Styris, M Vijay.
New South Wales: Simon Katich (Capt.), Stuart Clark, Pat Cummins, Nathan Hauritz, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Phillip Hughes, Nic Maddinson, Steve O’Keefe, Ben Rohrer, Daniel Smith, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner and Shane Watson.