Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni would have heaved a huge sigh of relief. Finally, after seven games, the Chennai Super Kings played a near-flawless game. A complete game that never allowed Sunrisers Hyderabad to claw back into the match.
Chennai made one change: leg-spinner Piyush Chawla for batsman N. Jagadeesan. But they reworked the batting order, and that worked wonders.
When Sam Curran opened with Faf du Plessis, it gave Chennai a left-right combination at the top and helped stretch the batting order. More importantly, Curran delivered on the job. His 31 (off 21 balls) gave exactly what Chennai wanted: a good liftoff in the powerplay.
That cushion allowed Shane Watson (42 off 38) and Ambati Rayudu (41 off 34) to play themselves in before stepping up the scoring. Chennai finished at least 10-15 runs short, but that was mainly due to the Hyderabad’s superb bowling at the death.
Can CSK replicate this success?
Those runs didn’t matter as Chennai picked up two wickets in the powerplay and Hyderabad’s chase never really got off the ground. Kane Williamson (57 off 39) lone hand was never enough as Chennai bowlers turned up the heat.
Has Chennai turned around the corner? If they can replicate this success in the coming games, Chennai can take their appointed spot in the playoffs. With the wickets offering a bit more bite to the spinners, the Chennai strategy to play three spinners will work well. Du Plessis’ loss of form may be a worry, but Watson is striking the ball cleanly. Rayudu too is coming into his own. If the late middle-order can accelerate, Chennai would be hard to stop.
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It wasn’t Hyderabad’s day. They were outplayed by a better team. Apart from their bowling, where Sandeep Sharma and Shahbaz Nadeem turned in excellent spells, Hyderabad didn’t have much going for them. The loss to Chennai was mainly a batting failure. Only Williamson stood tall. Hyderabad will require much more than that if they harbour ambitions of progressing further in the tournament.
The window to turnaround their fortunes is fast closing. Hyderabad have to fix the problems swiftly. Or else, IPL 2020 would rush past them.