This was the first time in this year’s IPL that Chennai Super Kings have batted first and it worked for them as they recorded a convincing 20-run win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in Dubai on Tuesday.
It was becoming tedious to see them go about a run chase. Their shortcomings seemed all too familiar. But opting to bat first appeared to alleviate some pressure. Things suddenly seemed to have fallen in place for them. Sending Sam Curran up the order worked, Dhoni didn’t hang around trying to take the game till the end and the spinners did the job for him. They could even afford to give Piyush Chawla just the one over. As CSK captain Dhoni said in his post-match press conference: “it was close to a perfect win” for them.
The two points also came at a valuable time. CSK had fallen behind in the opening half of the tournament and if they are to qualify for the play-offs, starting the second half strongly was important. CSK were always going to be a dangerous opposition as soon as the pitches became low and slow. With the ball holding and turning a bit, Dhoni was in his element. The fielders were exactly where they needed to be and the spinners were bowling important overs. Ravindra Jadeja dismissed Jonny Bairstow and Karn Sharma got a well-set Kane Williamson.
CSK’s golden oldies Shane Watson and Dwayne Bravo played important roles as well. It has been an up-and-down tournament so far for Watson, but with three 40-plus scores in the last four games, including two fifties, he seems to be hitting form just at the right time.
Bravo has solidified the death bowling department since his return from his injury. He was at it again against the Sunrisers, giving away just one run in the final over. His mixture of accurate yorkers and slower ones were no match for the tail. His direct-hit to dismiss Manish Pandey was also crucial.
As the tournament moves away from scores of 180-190 towards more moderate totals, expect CSK to come alive. They have been in this position before. They lost five of their opening seven games in 2010 as well but went on to win the tournament.
Do not rule out CSK making a dash for the top-4 in the latter half.