The most successful team in the history of the IPL face the current holders of the Australian Big Bash title as Chennai Super Kings take on the Sydney Sixers on Sunday (12.30pm BST).
Chennai boast a squad that contains big names from T20 cricket while the Aussie-based team are full of the country’s most talented young players along with some useful overseas imports.
Chennai have all the stars but Sydney have a settled side and this may be a closer contest than some are predicting.
Sydney’s side is skippered by Brad Haddin who until recently was Australia’s first choice wicket keeper in all forms of the game. Haddin may have fallen out of favour with national selectors but he remains a dangerous opponent in T20 and will have a critical role to play in this match.
The majority of the team is backed up by some of the most promising cricketers in Australia. Pat Cummins, Steve Smith, Steve O’Keefe, Mitchell Starc and Moises Henriques have all tasted international cricket at some stage and while they are not national regulars at this stage, their youthful talent could provide an edge over an ageing Chennai outfit.
Overseas imports Nathan McCullum and Michael Lumb are T20 specialists who help to complete an impressive, if underrated line up.
However, the key player for Sydney is undoubtedly Shane Watson who was instrumental in getting Australia to the semi-finals of the world T20. The all-rounder picked up four consecutive man of the match awards along the way and he will be a critical factor if Sydney are to take a positive result from this match.
Chennai Super Kings are led by India’s test and limited overs captain MS Dhoni and as such, there isn’t a better man to take charge of the country’s best players. Dhoni has the capacity to unite a team in the way that some Indian captains may have struggled to achieve in the past and this factor shouldn’t be overlooked.
Suresh Raina, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are there to support Dhoni in the bowling department along with overseas players Doug Bollinger, Albie Morkel and Ben Hilfenhaus. If there is a criticism of Chennai it suggests that their bowling is much stronger than their batting. Australian Mike Hussey is their ‘finisher’ – a man who can mount or chase a large total in the final few overs of a match but he may struggle to find any worthwhile support.
Faf du Plessis has struggled for form while on international duty and if the Chennai top order fails, Raina and Dhoni may have to do the majority of the run scoring.
Chennai Super Kings v Sydney Sixers Betting Tips
Overall, the IPL has allowed the Indian franchise sides to master the art of T20 cricket and it’s no surprise to see the four Indian teams at the top of the tournament betting. Sydney (best price @ evens with Stan James) have promise but the knowledge and experience of Chennai should be enough to see them triumph in this opening match.