It was an opener fitting to the two most successful IPL franchises of all-time, with Chennai Super Kings getting the better of Mumbai Indians by 5 wickets in Abu Dhabi. However, the striking impact of the game was how both the teams looked at the balance and pulled it off quite successfully.
Piyush Chawla adds solid balance to this CSK side
I have always been a big Piyush Chawla fan in the IPL for the instinct he brings to whichever team he plays for. KKR were the biggest beneficiary of his craft, with the Uttar Pradesh spinner dominating the powerplay phase like a few do. And as he dismissed Rohit Sharma in his first-ever over for the Chennai Super Kings today, you could sense the overall impact on the team. Firstly, dropping Imran Tahir for Chawla allowed the three-time Champions to play Sam Curran to bolster the pace-bowling department alongside Lungi Ngidi. With Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis up top, it was a smart arrangement by the management to optimise the potential and to fill in the massive vacuum left behind by Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh’s pull-out.
Chennai’s tired legs are nothing but a disaster
Watching the CSK innings today was like watching two different outfits fielding at the same time. Sam Curran brought in refreshing energy, chasing balls like his life depended on him and then Faf du Plessis did pure Faf du Plessis things to ensure the CSK stayed ahead of the curveball at the end of the Mumbai Indians innings. However, the positives ended right there with the other players struggling to get their feet across. During the 20-over period, CSK players committed as many as nine misfields, with four of them going for boundaries. Those were not even difficult chances, which means as many as 19 runs were given away unnecessarily. Agreed that most CSK players cover those mistakes with smart things with the bat and ball, but Dhoni would know this is not the most ideal thing for his team.
There is always a method to Mumbai’s madness
Chennai Super Kings play the Moneyball game to perfection and with Dhoni behind every single decision, they do stuff their own way. But Mumbai are the complete opposite where every single match-up matters and every single decision has been analysed threadbare. For instance, when Saurabh Tiwary started ahead of Ishan Kishan, it sent the Twitter world to a meltdown but the Jharkhand man justified his decision with a composed 42 off 33 balls that propelled the side to a respectable total. In the bowling front, MI took the important decision of bringing Bumrah first change, instead of opening with the new ball, which created some middle-order impact that would’ve been void otherwise. James Pattinson was a smart replacement and he did wonders with Trent Boult operating at the top of his game.
Vijay staring at the end of his career
Murali Vijay is not a natural in T20 cricket but he has a unique record that very few have - two centuries in the Indian Premier League. With Suresh Raina not available and Ruturaj Gaikwad still under isolation for his Covid-positive report, you could see CSK being in a handicap position that forced them to play Vijay as an opener. But one look and you know he was under-confident. Even when Faf du Plessis was insisting that the ball would miss the stumps, there was a cold response from the Tamil Nadu man. This shouldn’t bother MS Dhoni too much, though, as Gaikwad will start as soon as he recovers, but as a back-up, no, this is a Vijay-sized problem for the three-time IPL winners.