A much-needed half-century from Ruturaj Gaikwad helped the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) register an 8-wicket win over the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), thereby momentarily stalling their progress to the playoffs of the 2020 IPL.
Batting first on a slow wicket, Aaron Finch got things underway for RCB with a couple of boundaries off Deepak Chahar in the first over. He and Padikkal had done well to get RCB to 26 off the first three overs before Sam Curran provided the all-important breakthrough by getting Aaron Finch to hit straight to the hands of Ruturaj Gaikwad at extra cover.
Padikkal, who was keeping up the momentum with a boundary every over for the next couple of overs, fell to a tag-team catch between Faf du Plessis and Ruturaj Gaikwad at long-on off Mitchell Santner, who was playing his first IPL game this year. The CSK spinners, Santner, Imran Tahir and Ravindra Jadeja then did exceedingly well to keep the runs under check against Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, bowling wicket-to-wicket, not offering too much width and flight as Kohli mentioned later on.
There was the odd boundary from de Villiers, but he and his skipper had to rely mostly on running between the wickets to keep the scoreboard ticking. In fact, 40 out of the 50 runs scored by Kohli came off ones and twos today. He finally managed to clear the fence off Jadeja by skipping down the pitch and depositing the ball close to the sightscreen. The six was also his 200th in the IPL.
Thoroughly backed by the spinners since the powerplay, the CSK pacers ensured that there were no fireworks towards the end of the innings. Deepak Chahar first took the wicket of de Villiers, having him hole out to du Plessis, and then Sam Curran, who did not bowl in the previous game against the Mumbai Indians with a meagre target to defend, struck twice in the penultimate over, removing Moeen Ali and the well-set Virat Kohli. Chahar then knocked Chris Morris over with a yorker, and RCB finished with 145.
CSK’s opening pair of Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis got their side off to a dominating start to the chase. While Gaikwad cautiously dealt with Washington Sundar in the first over, du Plessis broke the shackles next over by first guiding a terrible, leg-side straying delivery from Chris Morris to the fine leg fence after Morris had produced a cracker off the previous ball, and then lofted his national teammate off the slot for a maximum over long-on.
Gaikwad then brought a half a dozen runs for himself by dancing down the wicket to Sundar and beautifully timing the ball, sending it over long-off. Mohammad Siraj, who produced a spell of a lifetime against KKR in RCB’s previous game, went for 15 in his first over, as CSK raced to 40 off 4.
Morris then provided a crucial breakthrough for RCB by getting Faf du Plessis to top-edge a fuller length delivery down the throat of Siraj, who took a fine catch. Ambati Rayudu walked in and took his time to settle in on the wicket while Gaikwad took charge. Right after the first time-out of the innings, Rayudu went on the attack against the pace of Navdeep Saini by helping a short and wide delivery over the point boundary and then doing the same off the same kind of delivery two balls later, getting rewarded with a boundary.
Siraj, brought back into the attack in the 12th over, was taken to the cleaners by the duo again, going for 14 as the game started to get away from RCB. It was Yuzvendra Chahal who broke the partnership by cleaning Rayudu up with a fuller length delivery. Two balls later, Ruturaj Gaikwad brought up a welcome half-century for himself.
CSK skipper MS Dhoni brought himself up the order to finish things off, which he successfully managed to do with Gaikwad playing so well. With the required rate dipping under 6, the duo easily reduced the margin of runs over the next few overs with ones and twos. Gaikwad then finished things off in style with a boundary to mid-wicket off Morris and then helped a short delivery down the leg side over the fine leg fence in the penultimate over.
RCB v CSK: Positives for CSK from today’s game
Spinners dominating the game against Kohli and de Villiers
With a total of 6 bowling options at their disposal, CSK went with 3 spin bowling options having read the wicket well. The CSK spin-trio of Mitchell Santner, Imran Tahir and Ravindra Jadeja went for a combined total of only 45 runs between overs 6 to 15, the middle-stages of the innings, bowling to Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, two of the finest batsmen in the current era.
The key to the success of the trio was they bowled wicket-to-wicket without offering too much flight to the two batsmen, which meant that the boundaries were curtailed; a total of only 4 boundaries were hit during that stage. In doing so, RCB only added to their terrible record with the bat in the middle stages of the innings, having lost 22 wickets and recorded a run rate of just under 7 throughout the tournament in this stage of the innings.
Death bowlers held on to the momentum built by spinners
Deepak Chahar, who has primarily been used as a new-ball bowler, bowled two overs at the death today. He had to bowl to de Villiers and Kohli in the first of the two, both of whom were accustomed to the slowness of the surface and were looking to end things with a flourish. He first got de Villiers to hole out to du Plessis at long-on, and then cleaned Chris Morris up in the last over, Amidst the two wickets, he conceded 7 runs each in his two overs.
At the other end, Sam Curran, bowling the penultimate over, lived up to his expectations of being a decent death bowler by conceding only 6 in the penultimate over despite over-stepping once. He changed his pace up in that over and got two prized scalps, that of Moeen Ali and the well-set Virat Kohli. In the process, only 20 runs were conceded in the last 3 overs.
Ruturaj Gaikwad finally ‘sparked’ to life
He was in dire need for runs, having given one more opportunity by the CSK management after failing to make an impression in the limited chances that he had got. Today’s game against RCB, in which he guided his team to an 8-wicket win with a mature knock on a slow surface has certainly helped his cause in sealing his spot for the rest of the tournament. According to Gaikwad in the post-match presentation, he targeted the bowlers he wanted to go after and whom to play out, which worked out well enough for him.
Gaikwad maintained a sedate approach while du Plessis went after the bowling in the first few overs, and once he got out, Gaikwad took charge of being the aggressor to help new batsman Rayudu settle in, which did not take too long.