Suresh Raina set up the base, Faf du Plessis ensured the target was well within the reach before Ambati Rayudu finished it off as his skipper does in his heyday. Chennai Super Kings had one hell of a game against Melbourne Stars, thrashing the Australian side by a margin of eight wickets.
Like MS Dhoni's many decisions in the past, the toss proved to be crucial in the beginning, as after being put to bat first, Melbourne Stars were strangled by some precise bowling by CSK bowlers. It came to a point that scoring runs were genuinely more difficult than being dismissed. Only Marcus Stonis, who had a great BBL last time around, stayed firm to make some contribution. So much so that his 61 turned out to be the only 15-plus score for any Stars batsman, as the team posted a mediocre total of 141 runs for the Chennai-based franchise to chase down.
If there ever was a cakewalk, this was it. Even though Shane Watson was run out in the first over itself, Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis, and towards the end, Ambati Rayudu made Stars bowlers look like a bunch of kids on their way to an eight-wicket victory. Raina went for the kill from the outset to set up the base, with usually reticent Faf du Plessis making sure the game was not pushed to the last over. Ambati Rayudu added the final plaster to that structure with a 14-ball 28 as Chennai kicked off their Champions League SRL campaign in style.
Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis’ dismissal within the space of 15 deliveries was crucial from Melbourne Stars’ point of view. Stoinis was the only form batsman today and desperately needed a partner who could open his arms. However, Maxwell’s dismissal followed by his own ended the hope straightaway. Stars didn’t have any chances from that point on.
Highs and Lows
It is rare that a high comes as late as in the 19th over, but it was a weird game, wasn’t it? Chennai Super Kings were cruising along but for me, when Rayudu came out to bat to take the attack on the opposition was the brilliant moment in the game. CSK averted another push to the down, something that has been their Achilles Heel. CSK might have been a hugely successful side but accept that, their game is boring. Anything beyond the norm is a welcome change.
One look on the scorecard can tell you how disastrous a batting performance it was by Melbourne Stars, especially after the fluent run-chase by the Indian side. But the way they floundered in the 16th and 17th over had to be the ultimate low in the game. The Stars lost both Hilton Cart-wright and Nathan Coulter-Nile before Steyn became the next man to be dismissed. The batting-bowling contest is fine but this phase ensured the game became more one-sided than one-sided.
Powerplay exploitation: Melbourne Stars 5/10 Chennai Super Kings 7.5/10
In the 2019-20 Big Bash League, Marcus Stoinis was the ultimate superstar in leading the side to the finals but he was supported by some fine contributions from Ben Dunk and Glenn Maxwell. However, in front of a lethal Chennai bowling attack, the Western Australian was forced to play a more cautious role in the beginning. Dunk was comparatively slower as well, leaving Melbourne Stars to play catch-up in the entirety of the game. 49 runs were all they could manage in this phase and the credit of that must go to Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur’s precise bowling.
CSK are known to be slow starters and the first three overs in the powerplay was exactly that. However, Suresh Raina, who came out to bat after Shane Watson’s dismissal in the first over, decided to give the leather a good massage. Steyn, who turned out to be a great addition for the Proteas in the recently-concluded Super Sixes SRL, was at his lethal best, but Haris Rauf and Nathan Coulter-Nile squandered that start to hand the momentum back to CSK.
Middle-overs manoeuvring: Melbourne Stars 5.5/10 Chennai Super Kings 8/10
After Dunk’s dismissal in the 8th over, when the Stars had only 55 runs on board, Stoinis had no other way than upping the ante further. But with runs hard to come by, which was further intensified with the dismissal of Nick Larkin and Glenn Maxwell. So much so that not a single over saw the Stars scoring anything beyond 9 runs for the entire nine-over period and the team reached 118/5 at the end of 15th over.
Chennai didn’t require to do anything out of the box to have a sort at the win, but they still managed to score at 9 runs per over. Faf du Plessis and Suresh Raina, easily two of the best players of spin bowling, dominated both Adam Zampa and Glenn Maxwell, leaving the skipper Maxwell short of plans. Utterly good that was!
Death bowling: Melbourne Stars 2/10 Chennai Super Kings 8.5/10
Direct me to better death bowling performances across tournaments in the SRL, I’ll wait. 23 runs that all Melbourne Stars could manage in the last five overs, as CSK put up a tag-team effort. Bravo conceded 2 runs in an overs for one wicket, Tahir picked two wickets in an over while Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar combined to spend 15 runs in three overs. It was a wholesome performance that cast a spell on the Big Bash side.
There were only 11 balls bowled by the Stars in the death, and CSK accumulated 29 runs. Why did Nathan Coulter-Nile bowl the 16th Over, despite Haris Rauf and Dale Steyn having two and one over each respectively, was a question that Maxwell needs to answer? In no way, it was set for a last-over finish. Stars can do a lot better.
Match Frenzy O Meter - Dull
As you would have understood by now, this was one dull encounter from every conceivable angle. Especially if it the start of a tournament, better things are expected as we go along.
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