The 38th match of the IPL 2021 tournament between the blockbuster teams, Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders (CSK v KKR), could all be about match-ups. Here, we take a look at a key game plan that could play a role in the game.
MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings aim to secure a playoff spot against the new-look Kolkata Knight Riders – CSK & KKR are undeniably teams in RED-HOT form in IPL Phase 2 in UAE.
Both teams have won their first two matches in the UAE and will be looking for their third straight victory in the desert country.
CSK vs KKR – Chennai and their top three
One of the main reasons for CSK dominating so far in the IPL 2021 is their top order batting, they have the best batting average and strike-rate in the league and have scored 60% of the team runs. Which also means they are heavily dependent on their top three to score the bulk of the runs and indeed only Delhi Capitals and Punjab Kings’s top three has contributed to their team’s overall scores.
As you can see, Faf Du Plessis is the aggressor with a very healthy average of 60 and an extremely efficient strike rate of 142, whereas previously from 2018 to 2020, he struck at just 121 with an average of 30 and slowed down post powerplay.
This season, Faf the aggressor has been a great complement to Ruturaj, who strikes at 103 but post-powerplay accelerates at a very healthy rate.
Moeen Ali, the most recent CSK auction purchase, has been fantastic for them against both spin and pace in the middle overs, and the powerplay cushion to settle down when wickets have fallen early has worked well for the southpaw, who has provided some explosive hitting ability to the CSK in the middle overs.
In addition to the great top three, they have Rayudu and Raina, both of whom are in decline, but the CSK batting depth has allowed them to play with freedom having almost no value on their wicket.
Game plan for KKR
As shown earlier CSK are quite dependent on their top three to lay a foundation and accelerate in the middle overs, and stopping them will be the key for Kolkata Knight Riders bowling group. Here’s some plans they could try to achieve it :
Choice of powerplay bowlers :
KKR have been guilty of using Prasidh Krishna and Andre Russell in the powerplay and both have a terrible economy rate exceeding nine RPO without much wickets to show for. Against the batting line-up of CSK, they should be careful with their usage of pacers and use Lockie Ferguson upfront even though he has poor numbers in PP, it’s mostly because he’s bowled only a few overs in the phase and on flatter wickets.
Another player who they could squeeze in this phase is Sunil Narine and particularly because he’s been ineffective vs LHBs off late, making things easier for both him and the team and it helps he has amongst the lowest ER in this team bowling in powerplay. In addition to this Faf has struck only in 60s and last his wicket twice versus Sunil Narine.
Bowling plans against Faf du Plessis, Ruturaj Gaikwad in the powerplay
For Faf Du Plessis considering the form he’s as Siraj showed in CSK 2nd game vs RCB you need to keep bowling on good length where he strikes at only 105 with a mix of pacy hard length against which he averages just 28. They need to be careful with the line though and ensure they are bowling just outside off or on stumps while executing it.
Against Ruturaj Gaikwad, who’s a slow starter in the powerplay, stump line bowling at pace seems to trouble him and in addition they can keep bowling with the same plan as against Faf’s because Ruturaj Gaikwad averages only 19 at strike rate of 65 on a good length versus pace in the powerplay.
Bowling plan against Moeen and the CSK middle order
In middle overs KKR should operate with one of Andre Russell or Prasidh Krishna who both have a sharp bouncer, can hit the hard length and can execute yorkers along with C Varun who is amongst the quickest spin bowlers in the league. Although Moeen Ali is known for marmalizing spin bowling he isn’t as attacking or fluent when he has to face accurate quick spin on sluggish wickets like the one at Abu Dhabi. One of his and even Raina, Rayudu’s well known weaknesses is versus the short ball and hit the deck bowling when the field is spread out expect the middle overs KKR pacers to come out on top if they bowl the right lengths.
What also makes Varun Chakravarthy an excellent option against the CSK middle order is his excellent record vs LHBs and a possibly clustered LHB line-up with Moeen, Raina, Jadeja could make things easier for him.
Batting plans for KKR
In terms of batting plans, after Venkatesh Iyer’s debut KKR don’t have slow-start problems in the powerplay.
CSK have only one hit-the-deck bowler in Hazlewood and two mediocre finger spinners who MS Dhoni utilizes smartly based on conditions, KKR can exploit this by floating Sunil Narine in the middle overs who averages 27.7 and strikes at 239 even versus off-spinners which is pretty astonishing for a Left hander. If he starts off well, it could tempt CSK to utilize Hazlewood’s over on him and thus end up making things easier for Andre Russell at the death.
Game plan for CSK
CSK are currently in the top two sides of the league and with the results so far their batting side has produced and the squad they have there’s not much they can do to improve themselves in the batting department apart from fixing general intent in some phases or situations.
One area of concern they could have in this game is bowling against Andre Russell - the power hitting genius. Since 2018 Andre Russell averages 60 and scores at a whopping strike rate of 185.5 versus the CSK team and the CSK bowlers need to find a way to get him out.
With a player of this calibre, there is no easy way to contain them.
However, like any other batsman, he has his strong points and weak zones, and Andre Russell prefers slower balls and medium pace.
You can't rely on slower balls against Andre Russell, and going for yorkers necessitates a high level of trust in your bowlers' execution. To keep him at bay or to limit his scoring rate, you must use the more modern approach of hitting 'hard' lengths, ideally at pace.
However, in order to fully exploit that weakness, you must have express pace. That hard length, pitching 8-10 metres from the batsman's stumps, is hittable at slower speeds. Short lengths into the body at good speed are the only method that consistently gives seamers a chance against the KKR power hitting genius with some good length balls at high speed in between.