Centurion: The Indian cricket platter – which of late has been full of Sri Lankan cuisine – will be served a fresh island delicacy garnished with Twenty20 flavour on Wednesday, when the Chennai Super Kings take on the Wayamba Elevens at the SuperSport Park here on Wednesday.
The Asian neighbours' Champions League 2010 campaign has hit an altogether different roadmap. While Wayamba's graph failed to take off against the Warriors, Chennai's has gone through the roof with a 57-run humiliation handed out to the Central Stags from New Zealand.
The Indian avatar Chennai has very subtle wrinkles to iron out, but deep furrows could be witnessed in Wayamba's first game, which warrant immediate attention.
To start off Wayamba's list of woes, they can be grouped with Guyana as the least impressive team on show on all three fronts. Whether it's bowling, batting or fielding, their armour seems full of chinks and in need of a quick pit-stop to run repairs. The team would be praying for Mahela Jayawardene to come good, which, if he does, will provide even a bigger opportunity for the impressive Jeevantha Kulatunga and Kushal Perera to use the long handle. But what Mahela does upfront would undoubtedly decide where Wayamba's quest ends up.
In comparison, Chennai won impressively without contributions from their stars like Mathew Hayden and Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni who didn't bat and Michael Hussey who wasn't picked. And with the middle order well taken care of by S Badrinath and Anirudha Srikkanth, Wayamba may be seen hiding for cover if Hayden and Co. get their act together.
Both teams look spin-heavy but the telling contrast may lie among the faster-men. Chennai's trio of Doug Bollinger, L Balaji and Albie Morkel not only bowled with control but also chipped away at wickets to let two quality off-spinners – the legendary Muttiah Muralitharan and the exciting R Ashwin – to take control in the middle.
Wayamba clearly lag behind on that front. Chanaka Welegedara, Farveez Maharoof and Thisara Perera at best look a second-choice attack and they may leave Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath a lot of ground to cover, in a lost cause.
It won't be impractical to conclude that should Chennai send Wayamba packing, they will have one foot inside the door to semifinals. With a run-rate even better than group-toppers Warriors – who have played one match more than Chennai – a win is all that Dhoni be hoping for to cement a spot in the top-two.