CLT20: Can the Chennai Super Kings maintain their form?

Blog by: Akshay

CSK had an impressive outing in the first game

After a tremendous performance in the first match against the Titans, Chennai Super Kings are once again on the rise. On a pitch which assisted the fast bowlers, the Super Kings produced a brilliant batting display and chased a massive total of 185 runs in 18.5 overs. M.S. Dhoni would be hoping that his boys replicate the same performance in the rest of the matches to qualify for the semi-finals.

In the first match against Titans, the bowling wasn’t too good from the Super Kings because of the dew on the ground. However, Mohit Sharma and Dwayne Bravo bowled extremely well and curtailed the run-flow at crucial junctures. Mohit Sharma got the new-ball to swing both ways, and Bravo was mixing up his pace very well, which eventually made life difficult for Titans’ stroke makers.

In addition he bowled a tight line and length to A.B. de Villiers and did not give enough room for him to free his arms. Whenever de Villers danced down the track, he delivered a short-ball at a slower pace, which deceived De Villers and he couldn’t time the ball. It was purely because of Bravo’s tight bowling at the death that the Super Kings managed to restrict the Titans to 185 runs.

Bravo also played a remarkable innings with the bat and helped CSK chase down 185. When the Super Kings were cruising along nicely, they lost the wicket of Suresh Raina and Michael Hussey in quick succession. At the time, the scoreboard read 114/3 in 10 overs. Chennai were in a commanding position, but it was important for Bravo and Badrinath to keep the required rate under control. The duo didn’t panic and kept scoring at a brisk-rate and from there  on Titans’ bowlers were clueless and eventually lost the game by 4 wickets.

Bravo’s form will be critical for the Super Kings. He will play an important role lower down the order, especially while chasing more than 9.00 runs per over. He has got a wide range of shots and also has the ability to react well in adverse situations. If he can reproduce the same kind of performance in forthcoming matches, the Super Kings will certainly have their noses ahead.

Also Suresh Raina played a beautiful innings against the Titans. He was exposed to short-pitched bowling, but handled the Titans seamers brilliantly. Obviously, the Titans’ strength was their pace attack, which can pose problems to even the world’s best batsmen on display. However Raina kept his composure, and punished the Titans fast bowlers all over the park. There was a bit of dew, but there was also uneven bounce from the wicket; Raina judged them to perfection and played a wonderful innings.

He needs to keep the rhythm going as they have tough matches ahead in the competition. Sunrisers Hyderabad, Trinidad & Tobago and the Brisbane Heat have a strong pace attack, who could deceive the batsmen with short-pitched deliveries. Also with Murali Vijay out of form, Raina will play an important role for the Super Kings at No.3.

Off-spinner R. Ashwin struggled for consistency in the first game

On the other hand Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja failed to make an impact against the Titans. They were taken for runs without much difficulty by the Titans batsmen. You may argue that because of the dew the duo found it extremely difficult to land the ball in the right area. That’s not an excuse. Ashwin was constantly landing the ball full, which Henry Davids cashed in on.  He didn’t even bother to vary his length, and as a result, the Titans batsmen had no problems in scoring runs against him.

He has to vary his length and keep the batsmen under check. Once the batsman is comfortable with full length deliveries, you must change your length. You could try a wide short-pitched delivery, the carrom ball or a quicker delivery.  It will be very useful when you bowl to someone like Kieron Pollard. He’s comfortable against full length deliveries, but not with the short-one which is out-side off stump (only against spinners). If Ashwin can rectify this mistake, it could be a tough time for the batsmen particularly on sub-continental wickets.

The conclusion that can be drawn from the first match is that the team is fired up and desperate to win this tournament. They have been the most consistent team from India at the tournament. They also have quality young cricketers who have shone at the domestic level. Mohit Sharma, Jason Holder and Badrinath have played well at the domestic level. They need to keep that going.

But one things needs to be done consistently – Dhoni has to select the squad according to the conditions and nature of the wicket. He has to save his best bowlers for the closing stages of the innings.

Considering the nature of the wicket, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to save Jason Holder for the last few overs. He has the ability to vary his length and mix up the pace, which could deceive the batsmen. Also it wouldn’t be a bad idea to ask Jadeja to bowl against explosive players. He’s a thinking bowler and has the ability to curb the run-flow of aggressive batsmen. For instance, he kept Kieron Pollard under control in the first play-off at Delhi in the sixth edition of IPL.

If these things are done, the Chennai Super Kings will certainly fancy their chances in the tournament. It’s a tough task, but the ‘men in yellow’ are capable of it under the stewardship of MSD.

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