Brief scores: Chennai Super Kings 167/6 in 20 overs (Watson 42, Sharma 2/19) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad 147/8 in 20 overs (Williamson 57, Bravo 2/25) by 20 runs
A close look at Chennai Super Kings‘ composition would tell us this team was put together with Chepauk in mind – a fact recently reiterated by Stephen Fleming. Thanks to the pandemic, CSK’s plans went awry. But halfway through the IPL, CSK finally found a chance to apply the Chepauk template – bat first, get to a par score and choke the chase with spin. With luck favouring MS Dhoni at the toss and his boys rising to the challenge, CSK put up a clinical show to pick up two points with a 20-run win over Sunrisers Hyderabad. More importantly, they kept themselves in the reckoning for the play-offs.
A batting order that showed intent
It’s not very often that CSK and Dhoni make major changes in the middle of an IPL season. But CSK’s current predicament mandated one and Sam Curran was promoted to open the batting, alongside Faf du Plessis. With no pressure of a chase, Sam Curran infused energy to CSK’s batting scoring a quick 31 off 21 balls. Some might have wanted Watson to open with Curran, with du Plessis at No 3. But this move seemed deliberate to keep Rashid Khan in check.
Du Plessis fell for 0, but Watson and Ambati Rayudu ensured CSK didn’t lose the advantage. The duo milked 59 runs off the spinners’ eight overs, without giving away any wickets. David Warner persisted with Rashid in search of a wicket, but Watson went after him, denting his numbers for the match. Ravindra Jadeja held the bottom half of the batting together and ensured CSK didn’t squander the advantage, thanks to his quick-fire 25 not out.
A couple of chinks still remain, but CSK’s under-performing department of this season finally showed up. The promise Curran showed in his brief stint might encourage CSK to stick with him at the top, allowing du Plessis, Watson and Rayudu to play their natural game, irrespective of CSK batting first or chasing.
Bowling variety: captain’s pride, opposition’s envy
Fortunes change very quickly in a T20 game and blessed is a captain, who has variety in his bowling. On a slow pitch defending a par score, Dhoni’s bowling changes was spot on. Curran ensured Warner’s stay at the crease didn’t last beyond the Powerplay. Manish Pandey’s instinctive single cost him his wicket having hit straight to Bravo, who ran him out with a direct hit. Curran and Deepak Chahar kept the batsmen in check, setting the stage for the spinners to take over. Jadeja cramped Jonny Bairstow and castled him, leaving SRH at 60/3 at the end of the 10th over.
With the top order dismantled, Dhoni now had the luxury of bowling his wrist spinners for the last 10 overs. Williamson stood between CSK and the two points, and Dhoni brought on Karn Sharma. Priyam Garg and Vijay Shankar fell, trying to up the ante. SRH could never take off in the chase and Williamson fell eventually. Shardul Thakur continued his good form with the ball and combined with Bravo to deny SRH by 20 runs. CSK’s deadly death bowling sealed the deal for them. A team that fell short in five of its seven attempts so far, suddenly looked invincible in home-like conditions.
Will 2020 be a repeat of 2010 for CSK?
Prior to this game, social media was abuzz with similarities between CSK’s position at the half-way mark in IPL 2010 and 2020. Though statistics do not guarantee a repeat performance, CSK can take heart in the fact that their revival in 2010 was due to the many wins at Chepauk in the second half of the league stage. It has taken a while for CSK to find the right combination and with pitches slowing down across the 3 venues and offering grip for the spinners, CSK will be fancying their chances to pull off a 2010, in 2020. And while they are at it, CSK would want to keep an eye on the NRR given the first and the seventh team on the table separated by only four points.
Who they play next:
CSK: vs Delhi Capitals, 17 October, Sharjah
SRH: vs Kolkata Knight Riders, 18 October, Abu Dhabi