Ambati Rayudu's much-awaited comeback will be a shot in the arm for an under-pressure Chennai Super Kings when they take on Sunrisers Hyderabad, who have shown resilience after early setbacks, in the IPL here on Friday.
Rayudu, hero of CSK's opening IPL victory against Mumbai Indians, missed out due to mild hamstring injury and Bravo has been also carrying a niggle of similar nature since the Caribbean Premier League where he didn't bowl in the last two games.
"Both Rayudu and Bravo are available for selection," CSK CEO KS Viswanathan told PTI on Thursday.
CSK and Sunrisers Hyderabad (since inception) have traditionally been two of the most balanced sides in most IPL editions but both have ensured scratchy starts this year, losing two of their first three games, primarily due to lack of balance in the middle-order.
Rayudu's presence could well mean that he will replace an out-of-form Murali Vijay at the top alongside Shane Watson.
However, same cannot be said about DJ Bravo as it will then force Mahendra Singh Dhoni to tinker with the whole line-up.
But Kedar Jadhav's poor form will certainly be a worry for Dhoni as there aren't any ready replacement for the Maharashtra man, who hasn't played any notable innings in near or distant past.
Bravo's replacement Sam Curran has been one of CSK's better performers in the first three games with good change-ups in pace and handy hitting.
In order to accommodate Bravo, Dhoni will either have to do away with opener Watson or seamer Josh Hazlewood, both of which looks non-negotiable on the Dubai track.
For Hyderabad, the presence of Kane Williamson made a fragile middle-order, full of Indian rookies, look more solid. Both Jonny Bairstow and David Warner also got their share of runs.
For SRH to succeed, they need to find that one dependable Indian big-hitter in the middle order in case their top three -- Bairstow, Warner and Williamson fail in unison.
Kashmiri lad Abdul Samad has shows promise while both Priyam Garg and Abhishek Sharma need to up their game.
The bowling line-up is pretty even for both teams.
While Deepak Chahar, Hazlewood, Curran, Ravindra Jadeja and Piyush Chawla can be more than a handful on slow a Dubai track, SRH have found their death overs specialist in T Natarajan, who can be an ideal foil to world's No.1 T20 bowler Rashid Khan.
Khan was brilliant against Delhi Capitals, claiming three wickets which also earned him the man of the match honours.
Chennai Super Kings: Murali Vijay, Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni(C & Wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Sam Curran, Piyush Chawla, Josh Hazlewood, Deepak Chahar, Ambati Rayudu, Dwayne Bravo, Karn Sharma, Imran Tahir, Shardul Thakur, Lungi Ngidi, Monu Kumar, Mitchell Santner, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore, N Jagadeesan, KM Asif
Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner(C), Jonny Bairstow(Wk), Manish Pandey, Kane Williamson, Abdul Samad, Abhishek Sharma, Priyam Garg, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, K Khaleel Ahmed, T Natarajan, Wriddhiman Saha, Shreevats Goswami, Siddarth Kaul, Mohammad Nabi, Shahbaz Nadeem, Vijay Shankar, Jason Holder, Sandeep Sharma, Bavanaka Sandeep, Billy Stanlake, Fabian Allen, Virat Singh, Basil Thampi, Sanjay Yadav
Starting XI Prediction:
Chennai Super Kings: Shane Watson, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, Sam Curran, MS Dhoni (C & Wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav, Deepak Chahar, Piyush Chawla, Imran Tahir
Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner, Jonny Bairstow, Manish Pandey, Kane Williamson, Priyam Garg, Abdul Samad, Abhishek Sharma, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, T Natarajan, Khaleel Ahmed
Chennai Super Kings vs Sunrisers Hyderabad Dream11 picks:
David Warner, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, Kane Williamson, MS Dhoni (C & Wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar, Piyush Chawla, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rashid Khan, T Naranjan
Chennai Super Kings: Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Faf du Plessis, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni(C & Wk), Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Sam Curran, Shardul Thakur, Piyush Chawla, Deepak Chahar
Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner(C), Jonny Bairstow(Wk), Manish Pandey, Kane Williamson, Abdul Samad, Abhishek Sharma, Priyam Garg, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, K Khaleel Ahmed, T Natarajan
The game begins!
David Warner and Jonny Bairstow are at the crease. Warner is on strike. Deepak Chahar will start the attack for Chennai Super Kings.
Score after 5 overs: SRH (33-1)
Bairstow went away having no runs scored. Not the start he was expecting. Manish Pandey and Warner are at the crease. Pandey has scripted a few early boundaries which helped SRH in having a decent start.
Score after 10 overs: SRH (63-2)
Warner is yet to make a mark in the innings. Pandey has departed with Williamson coming down for him. Will the New Zealand skipper help SRH reach a respectable total?
Score after 15 overs: SRH (100-4)
Both Williamson and Warner have been dismissed. The sole responsibility of setting a decent target is now on the shoulders of youngsters Abhishek Sharma and Priyam Garg, who have not really found their footing in the IPL so far.
Score after 20 overs: SRH (164-5), CSK needs 165 to win
Just like the fans hoped, SRH's Priyam Garg did play a brilliant inning as he went on to score 51 runs off 26 balls. He helped SRH set a respectable target. Now, the bowlers need to showcase their prowess and contain the threatening CSK batsmen.
The chase begins!
Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson are at the crease. du Plessis is on strike. Bhuvneshwar Kumar will open the attack for SRH.
Score after 5 overs: CSK (26-1)
Another poor performance from Shane Watson. The opener has failed to make a mark with his batting in all the four matches of the tournament this year.
du Plessis and Ambati Rayudu, who returned after a gap of two games, are at the crease. Rayudu is back to help dissolve the batting woes in the Dhoni-led side.
Score after 10 overs: CSK (44-4)
A very bad start for CSK. SRH bowlers are once again doing a fantastic job in containing the batsmen and picking up wickets. However, du Plessis' run-out was a controversial call as Bairstow did not have the ball in his hands when he contacted the stumps.
Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja are at the crease now. CSK needs a captain innings from Thala.
Score after 15 overs: CSK (79-4)
A tough chase for CSK in the death overs. Tough, but not impossible as both Dhoni and Jadeja are at the crease.
Sunrisers Hyderabad beat Chennai Super Kings by 7 runs!
A visibly drained MS Dhoni's (47*) best efforts were not enough in the end for Chennai Super Kings (CSK), who succumbed to a seven-run loss to SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday.
In reply to SRH's 164/5, CSK could only manage to reach 157/5.
CSK lost their first three wickets within the powerplay as SRH ensured that the chasing side's run rate remained alarmingly low. At the start of the 10th over, CSK found themselves at 43/4.
Ravindra Jadeja (50) and Dhoni later steadied the ship for CSK with the former upping the ante in the death overs. The pair put up 72 runs for the fifth wicket before Jadeja holed out at deep backward square-leg just when he started to look like taking CSK home.
Sam Curran (15*) came in and hit a six off the very first ball and the situation came down to CSK needing 28 to win off the last over.
The over started perfectly for CSK with Abdul Samad's first delivery running to the boundary down the leg side, as wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow failed to gather the wide ball. But Samad managed to keep things under control in the subsequent deliveries to ensured that CSK finished seven runs short of the target.
Earlier, Priyam Garg (51 not out) and Abhishek Sharma's (38) 77-run stand for the fifth wicket was crucial as SRH scored 164 for the loss of 5 wickets.
Brief scores: SRH 164/5 in 20 overs (Priyam Garg 51 not out, Abhishek Sharma 31; Deepak Chahar 2/31) vs CSK 157/5 in 20 overs (Ravindra Jadeja 50, MS Dhoni 47; T Natarajan 2/43)