Chennai Super Kings, on Sunday, decided to field 11 Ravindra Jadejas and that turned out to be their best decision of the season as the Saurashtra Superman dismantled RCB on his own to take CSK back to top spot. Jadeja, today, arguably registered the greatest all-round IPL performance of all time.
Where RCB lost the game
When Jadeja castled Maxwell. At 79/3 in the 9th over, with AB and Maxwell batting, RCB were well and truly in the game but Maxwell’s miscalculated heave spelt doom for Virat Kohli’s side. With the pitch slowing down, the CSK spinners smelt blood, post which there was no coming back for RCB.
After a slow start last season - 41 off the first 35 balls he faced in the powerplay - Faf du Plessis unleashed a free-flowing, aggressive avatar in the clash against Punjab in Dubai, where he blasted 32 off the 17 balls he faced in the powerplay. Since then not only has he not looked back, but the South African has been the most destructive opener in the powerplay. In his last 14 IPL games in the powerplay, du Plessis has struck at 144.00. Of all batsmen to have faced a minimum of 150 balls in this phase in the same time-frame, no one has had a better strike rate. Across the last two games, du Plessis scored 63 runs in the first six at a SR of 180.00 and today, once again, the senior man set the tone for the side with his belligerence. Sensing the lack of threatening pace in the wicket, du Plessis adhered to the come-down-the-track-and-attack approach which not just negated any potential threat posed by the pacers, but dashed any hopes RCB had of controlling the first phase of the game. By the end of the sixth over, CSK were 51/0, of which du Plessis himself had contributed to 27 off just 19 balls. Starting slowly in the powerplay has been CSK’s Achilles Heel but du Plessis is helping the side right one of the wrongs single-handedly.
CSK have given Ambati Rayudu the license to go for the kill
The strike rates of MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav attracted a lot of eyeballs last season, but, mind you, Ambati Rayudu too had a season that was far from impressive. He struck his 359 runs at just 127 and was at the heart of many a snail-ish middle-order performances. This season, however, added depth to CSK’s batting has freed Rayudu up and he’s displayed a carefree, swing-at-everything version of him that has been pretty fun to watch. Though having scored just 64 runs, Rayudu has struck at a remarkable 156 and has played knocks that have been genuinely impactful. His 23 vs DC and 27 versus RR both galvanized the innings and his disdain for wicket-preservation was evident in the chase versus Punjab, where he went for a glory hit on his very first ball. Today, again, he made an instant impact and injected much-needed momentum into the innings with a 7-ball 14 that included a monster hit off Kyle Jamieson. Rayudu has always had the ability to go big and often it has been his (lack of) intent that held him back. Now that CSK have given him the license, the veteran is showing how valuable a floater he can be even at the age of 35.
RCB’s #3 punt is simply not working
RCB, instead of deploying an out-and-out No.3, have decided to use all-rounders as a pinch-hitting #3 in this IPL and it is fair to say that the plan has fallen flat. In 4 innings, the trio of Shahbaz Ahmed, Rajat Patidar and Washington Sundar have - RCB’s #3 batters this year - have combinedly scored 30 off 31 balls and not once has anyone intimidated or taken the game to the opposition. The ploy didn’t, of course, hurt the side in the first four games due to the ludicrous form of their big guns, but today’s encounter exposed the flaw in the tactic. There will inevitably be games in which Maxwell and de Villiers will misfire, but having a part-time batsman at 3 means that, in such games, the match will be as good as lost. The showing of RCB’s Top 4 today was a sign from the gods that it’s time for the Reds to deploy a specialist No.3 batsman.
Chepauk papered over RCB bowling’s cracks - it is still far from reliable
In their last game, RCB let RR to get 177 after reducing them to 43/4 inside the first 8 overs; Today, CSK took 74 off the last 5 overs, though it was predominantly due to the 37-run horror over bowled by Harshal Patel. The point is, the wheels are starting to come off, and the flaws in RCB’s bowling are getting exposed. This may have surprised a few, but, really, this was always coming. For it was the Chepauk wicket and some ridiculous levels of over-performing from Harshal Patel that helped paper over cracks and elevated the side’s bowling to an unforeseen level. The absence of an out-and-out world-class seamer - Saini is in fact the only express pacer in the entire squad, and he is nowhere near world class - was always going to render the side vulnerable on flat wickets and that is precisely what we’ve come to witness. The one-dimensionality and inexperience of the attack, coupled with the wretched form of Chahal, was always inevitably going to peep out, and with RCB now shifting base to Ahmedabad and Kolkata, it spells bad news for the side.
Okay, making a bold call here - the performance today from Jadeja will not be matched again this season. 62* off 28 balls, which included 37 runs off one over, 4 wickets - including that of AB de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell - and a bullet direct hit to along with that. Pardon us, but Ravindra Jadeja, WHO ARE YOU? FBI!
Match Frenzy O Meter - A once-in-a-lifetime game
You will never see a game like this ever again. It was literally 1 vs 11 and it was the sole warrior, Ravi Jadeja, who not just ended up winning, but slaughtered the opponent. Ravi Jadeja is pure entertainment and this game was essentially 3 hours of Ravi Jadeja. Isn’t the verdict self-explanatory?