The eighth match of the IPL 2021 tournament between the two blockbuster teams, Punjab Kings and Chennai Super Kings, could all be about match-ups. We take a look at a key game plan that could play a role in the fourth game of the IPL 2021 – PBKS vs CSK.
PBKS vs CSK Game Plan – CSK needs to bench du Plessis and bring in Imran Tahir
We’ve all heard about the very famous term in cricket “Making things happen” and the players associated with it. But if there was ever a cricket team which could get that tag, it would be none other than the three-time champions Chennai Super Kings. The Yellove Army has defied logic and done well season after season. But whatever that magic was, seems to be wearing off.
CSK‘s bowling attack for IPL 2021 is so poor that there’s very little hope. In the first game of the edition against Delhi Capitals, all the CSK bowlers except Dwayne Bravo, were taken apart as DC chased down 189 with 8 balls to spare. The primary requirement for any T20 bowling attack is at least one express pace bowler. CSK not having that is a major worry especially against the batting lineup like Punjab Kings, who have the batsmen that are vulnerable against pace.
It’s impossible for CSK to improve the bowling quality significantly with what they have but there are a few things that could make it slightly better. Their new ball specialist, Deepak Chahar has become stagnant since the last season. In IPL 2020, Chahar was able to take only 12 wickets in 14 matches at an average of 33 and he becomes completely redundant if there’s no movement. Perhaps it’s time to leave him out.
The PBKS batting unit is insane and they have already smashed 221 runs in the first game against RR at the very venue, Wankhede Stadium, where they will take on CSK. The PBKS Skipper, KL Rahul averages 71 and strikes at 153 at this venue with three 90s and a hundred. His batting mates Mayank, Gayle and Pooran have also been exceptional since last season. So how do CSK stop them?
CSK have kept Imran Tahir, who’s arguably the second best leg spinner in the world, on the bench since last season. He has 80 wickets to his name in IPL at an economy rate of 7.83 and strike rate of 16.2. When you look at his head to head numbers against the PBKS batsmen, his inclusion in the playing XI becomes a no-brainer call. Tahir has troubled Rahul, Agarwal and Pooran, albeit a small sample size. Tahir could be CSK’s main weapon to stop KL Rahul, who has scored at a strike rate of 91 against the leggie. And even though Gayle has had a high scoring rate against him, Tahir has dismissed him thrice T20s.
Chennai also have the off-spin option, Moeen Ali in the playing XI, who can be used to counter the PBKS’s destructive left handed duo, Gayle and Pooran. In IPL career, Chris Gayle’s average goes down to 35.9 while his strike rate takes a significant hit – down to only 115 against off spin. On the other hand, Nicholas Pooran’s average against off spin drops down to 24.3 in IPL and scoring rate 20 less than his overall IPL strike rate.
Chennai Super Kings can make way for these two favourable matchups to play together by leaving out Faf du Plessis. The South African batsman was CSK’s top run-getter last season but for a better team combination, they need to make this call. CSK have Robin Uthappa on the bench, who has been in a sublime form off late and can do the job of the powerplay aggressor.
With the kind of batting depth they have, Chennai can afford to miss the services of du Plessis in order to improve their bowling. The only question is, would MS Dhoni, who has historically been very reluctant to make changes in playing XIs, be willing to try this route?