No matter how fictional the following sentence might sound, but the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) are officially the first team to bow out of the 2020 IPL. The fact that their elimination came on the back of a crushing defeat against their long-time arch-rivals, the Mumbai Indians (MI) tonight at Sharjah might have rubbed salt into their wounds.
A phenomenal new-ball spell from Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah saw the Chennai Super Kings slump to 21 for 5 within the powerplay. While Boult relied on movement off the air and some stupid shot selection from the batsmen to inflict the breakthroughs, Bumrah went with the skiddiness off the surface and beat the batsmen with immaculate lines and lengths.
Kieron Pollard, who was appointed stand-in skipper due to a hamstring distress to regular skipper Rohit Sharma, brought on his spinners against his opposite number of the night, MS Dhoni, a tactic that ended up being successful. Dhoni, having been tied down for 14 deliveries, bludgeoned Rahul Chahar over the long-off fence off his 15th and nicked a leg-break behind to a vigilant Quinton de Kock next ball.
Sam Curran then went on to ensure that CSK managed to survive their full quota of 20 overs. With some support from Shardul Thakur, who provided him company for 20 deliveries before rather daftly smacking a slower bouncer from Nathan Coulter-Nile right up in the air and being dismissed out caught, and then Imran Tahir, who supported him with all his might, agilely running between the wickets, finding the fence on a couple of occasions and doing exceedingly well to block the good deliveries out in the latter stages of the innings, Curran, who accelerated a fair bit towards the end, reached a fighting half-century and took his team to a total of 114 before being cleaned up with a brutal yorker from Boult off the last ball of the innings that saw his off-stump take a tumble.
The MI opening duo of Quinton de Kock and Ishan Kishan then killed off any momentum that CSK had within the first few overs itself. It can be said that they were helped in doing so by the CSK fast bowling duo of Deepak Chahar and Nathan Coulter-Nile, who completely messed up their line and length and conceded far too many boundaries at the start itself.
As a result, none of the other bowlers could make an impact, as MI waltzed through to the target with 10 wickets and close to 8 overs to spare. Ishan Kishan, who thoroughly enjoyed his stay in the crease tonight, ended with 68 runs to his name, which included 5 cleanly struck over-boundaries, four of which came against the spin bowling of Imran Tahir and Ravindra Jadeja.
CSK v MI: Tactics and Talking Points
Harsh to blame the ‘non-sparking’ youngsters for failure against MI new-ball bowling attack
The fact that their skipper MS Dhoni, possessor of one of the greatest Cricketing minds of all time, publicly mentioned the lack of ‘spark’ in them over the course of a single tournament might have just been enough to destroy Ruturaj Gaikwad and Narayan Jagadeesan mentally. Therefore, when they made it to the XI against Mumbai Indians tonight, they had to play to prove a point rather than expressing themselves and playing their natural game, which is far from how the game needs to be for individuals playing the sport at any level, right from the streets to the stadium.
It certainly did not help their case that they were up against a couple of world-class fast bowlers in such a pressure game straightaway. Gaikwad, who has been terribly managed by CSK to say the least in terms of his batting position, was all at sea against Trent Boult with the new ball. He managed to get bat on two and was comprehensively beaten twice, and was trapped in front off the fifth, a vicious inswinger that ducked in sharply. Jagadeesan, who scored 33 against RCB before being dropped from the side, nicked a brilliant delivery from Jasprit Bumrah first ball, and dejectedly walked back to the hut.
Kieron Pollard plotting his spinners against MS Dhoni straightaway
With Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult ripping through the CSK top-order, the sight of Krunal Pandya and Rahul Chahar being introduced to the attack might have been a peculiar sight at first, but upon taking notice of who was taking guard at the batting crease at the time, one would instantly realize the reason behind stand-in skipper Kieron Pollard introducing his spinners early on.
MS Dhoni’s record against away spinning bowlers is well articulated and documented by several individuals before, and the former Indian captain did nothing to improve his record tonight either. He faced a total of 9 balls of spin in his 16-ball stay, out of which he blocked 7, smashed a six off Rahul Chahar off the eighth and edged behind to Quinton de Kock next ball.
Not giving the new ball to Sam Curran
Sam Curran had walked in to bat with CSK tottering at 21 for 5 within the powerplay. He then put in his best effort to hold up one end as the wickets continued to tumble. With commendable support from Imran Tahir towards the end, he ensured that his side batted out the entire 20 overs and registered a barely decent enough score to defend.
Now, having done so, Curran’s confidence and adrenaline must have been sky-high, a trait that all-rounders generally possess if they perform exceedingly well in one department. Curran, whose action helps him swing the ball back into the right-handers and away from the left, could have made the most of the conditions, given what Trent Boult had done earlier today and with MI sending out two free-flowing, stroke-playing left-handed batsmen to commence the chase. For some unknown reason, bizarrely, Curran was not introduced into the attack at any stage of the innings. It remains to be heard whether he could not bowl due to fatigue or an injury or it was just a tactic that CSK did not implement.
Too much width offered by Deepak Chahar and Josh Hazlewood early on
With a meagre target of 115 to defend, the one thing that the new-ball bowling duo of Deepak Chahar and Josh Hazlewood required not doing was offer any width to either one of Quinton de Kock or Ishan Kishan, both of whom are excellent shot-makers square of the wicket. Given that the conditions were ideal for someone like Deepak Chahar, who is an excellent exponent of swing bowling, all he needed was to pitch it up and keep the ball around middle and off-stump.
The tactic almost paid off off the second delivery of the chase, with de Kock going at an away swinging delivery with hard hands and finding the third man fence with a very thick outside edge, but thereafter, there was no repetition of that. Both Chahar and Josh Hazlewood were guilty of either pitching the ball too far up or offering too much width to the left-handed opening duo. As a result, the silver lining that was on offer for CSK after the fightback with the bat from Curran faded within the first 4 overs of the chase.