As Delhi Capitals gear up to face Chennai Super Kings in Qualifier 2, ESPNcricinfo takes a look at the selection dilemmas faced by the two teams.
The Vijay question
M Vijay played the first game this season as an opener and top-scored with 38 when Super Kings folded for 109 chasing 156 against Mumbai Indians. In his second game, also against Mumbai in the first qualifier, Vijay batted at No. 4, having come in as a replacement for Kedar Jadhav. Once again, he did a decent job given the conditions, but is there merit in playing him in the middle order again when he essentially played the same role that Ambati Rayudu could also have played?
Only four of Vijay's 158 IPL innings have been as a non-opener, and he's made 45 runs in total, performances that are far removed from his record as an opener. Super Kings have often not needed to bat deep this season when MS Dhoni comes in, so if they've lost faith in Dhruv Shorey as a middle-order batsman, there may be a case to bring in someone like Karn Sharma, who offers both a better strike rate late in the innings and an extra spin-bowling option on a sticky wicket.
Will we see Santner?
Carrying on from the Vijay question, there is another more alluring possibility: Mitchell Santner. Santner has emerged as a potent finisher in limited-overs cricket over the last 18 months and even finished the job for Super Kings against Rajasthan Royals this season. He offers the same skill set as Karn, but is arguably the much better option.
One limitation with the Santner route, of course, is that he's an overseas player. More significantly, Super Kings would have to think about dropping Shane Watson, something they have consistently avoided this season even as the batsman has gone through a prolonged run of bad form. Watson has unflattering numbers against the Capitals spinners: an average of 14.4 against Amit Mishra, who has dismissed him five times in 11 innings, and an average of 6.7 against Axar Patel, who has dismissed him five times in six innings.
Will they finally be convinced to leave him out, so that Vijay could stay on in the opening role? The last time a similar question was asked, the answer was a negative.
Boult or Morris?
Trent Boult was the choice to replace Kagiso Rabada when he left with an injury, but he has had an up and down run so far. He's taken three wickets in four games, and while it is unfair to expect the same strike rates as Rabada (25 wickets in 12 games), the gap has been further extended by his returns in the slog overs, including a few games ago against Dhoni.
Historically, Boult is in the top ten among bowlers with the poorest economy rates in the last four overs of an IPL game. His strengths are swinging the new ball and using his angle to set batsmen up, but even in the Powerplays, Boult has surprisingly meagre returns when he plays in the IPL, with an average of 53.7 and only nine wickets from 32 innings. Those career trends have shown up in this IPL season as well.
Will Capitals then be tempted to bring back Chris Morris?
Morris has flown under the radar this season, but he is their second-highest wicket-taker with 13 in nine matches. He's also among the best death bowlers in the league this year, taking ten of his wickets in that phase at an economy of 8.7. He brings both, an identical strike rate to Rabada's, and a better record at the back end. Not to mention, Capitals would much prefer him batting in the last overs than Mishra or Boult. Is there a very obvious swap to be made here, or will Boult be backed?
Colin Ingram is the most experienced middle-order batsman available to the Capitals right now, but they chose to leave him out from the Eliminator to bring in Colin Munro. Ingram is a good player of spin, so for Capitals to chance that against Sunrisers Hyderabad was brave. There was precedent, though. Munro's best innings of the season, 40, came against Sunrisers earlier in the season, when he had come in for Ingram.
So will it be a case of reverting to Ingram? Munro has fallen to spin in all three innings this season, and Super Kings have the quality in that department, backed by a smart captain, to cause him problems. On the other hand, Ingram hasn't gone past 20 in his last six innings. Will they be more cautious and count on Ingram's more conservative game to show up and solidify their innings? Or will they take a chance on Munro coming in late enough that the seamers are in action?