IPL 2015: CSK's incredible home run
It needs remarkable consistency for a team to dominate a tournament for about 40 days, composing over 50 matches and then bettering the record by one more step by going into the finals. And to come back again next season, go into the same loop relentlessly should be a prodigious accomplishment. But for Chennai Super Kings, this repetitive process is their legacy.
To come out in a tournament where the unpredictability factor looms large requires exceptional skills. And what is even more exceptional is the incredibleness of finishing in the top 4 every single time since the league’s inception. But what does CSK do that is strangely different from the other teams making their life easier to reach the top-4 every season?
CSK EMPHASIS ON HOME WINS:
Home games add a lot of significance in the IPL if a team wants to finish in the last 4. Seven wins at home would inevitably insure a place in the top four. Many teams emphasize winning matches at home but falter to perform due to lack of proper resources. This is the main domain where CSK had their plans grounded.
Given below is the breakdown of numbers since 2010 depicting how instrumental home wins have been for CSK in sealing a place in the top-4 every season:
|YEAR||HOME GAMES PLAYED||HOME GAMES WON||POINTS GAINED FROM HOME GAMES||OVERALL SEASON POINTS||POSITION IN THE POINTS TABLE|
Playing to the strength has to be the centralization theme for any team. Matches are won based on strengths. The team’s strength to create or to seize an opportunity of success depends on how well the resource management is being carried out and MS Dhoni has been the best at the helm of the resource management while playing at home. The unvanquishable home record that CSK bask upon is mainly attributed to the bowling resource they have got to deploy on their home turf.
The conditions at Chepauk have traditionally favored the slow bowlers although there were few high scoring games on display. The pitch has primarily foxed the intention of a T20 game and had set up its own trend in producing rather competitive scoring thrillers on a track that showed the tendency to slow down making it apparent that run making was not going to be an easy accomplishment.
CSK’s rate of success on the slow and low Chepauk track showed signs of a trend in all seasons. There was a methodology in their approach as to how they are working together as a formidable unit. The batsmen did not have to pile up monstrous totals to contribute to the team’s success. MS Dhoni winning the toss had no hesitancy to bat first knowing it would become agonizingly difficult to chase a total anything above 150. The team bowling resources were aplenty to strangle down the opposition in the quest to nail down the competitive totals of 140’s and 150’s.
THE STRENGTH TO STRANGLE OPPOSITION:
“How does it feel for a batsman when there is something that is going to come in the way curtailing down the freedom to score freely and still couldn’t find a way to escape the strangulation? ”
It is a feeling a lot of opposition teams have gone through over the years in trying to dethrone CSK and breach their fortress. The middle overs turned to be a significant phase in the match leading to the team’s downfall. It saw a drastic dip in the scoring rate which was mainly due to spin and slow bowlers savoring the success from the slow and low chepauk track.
The power play block of 6 overs upfront was just like any other T20 match turning out to be the most enriching phase for the batting team. But what followed after the power play period evidenced the opposition teams finding it difficult to sustain the pressure of chasing reasonable totals.
The spin bowlers were dominant during the middle overs period taking the aid of the slow and low pitch, piling up the dot balls and boundary drought that invariably mounted up the pressure of required run rate for a team batting second. The batsmen were either over aggressive to unsettle the spinners and eventually throwing up a wicket or took to being over cautious building the dot balls to save the team from an another collapse. Either way, it is the spinners holding the aces in choking down the batting side.
The tactic to deploy the spin component in the middle overs has been an ongoing tradition since many seasons for CSK with no repercussions. They never tinkered too much with the process they believe to be their ultimate potency. Ashwin has always been the nucleus of spin bowling unit. The support casts weren’t bad either. From Muralitharan and Jakati in previous seasons to Jadeja, Negi and even Raina at times, it was all about the art of spinning a web, carving their own niche in stifling out the oppositions.
FAST BOWLERS DECEPTIVE PACE ALSO AIDING TO SUCCESS:
While it was spinners who have been commanding in the middle overs, the pace bowlers took to the experience of spinners, taking the pace off the ball and bowling it slower through the air on a pitch that deteriorated as the match progressed.
The lack of pace in the pitch for the ball to grip on the surface also depleted the out-and-out fast bowlers’ chances to clock the maximum speed. Someone like Lakshmipathy Balaji who spent all his prime days with CSK, mastered the art of bowling cutters and back of the hand deliveries to cut short the scoring shots. Dwayne Bravo, Ashish Nehra and Mohit Sharma who could clock close to the speed of 140kmph only realized that extra pace was an undoing where the ball stops before it reaches the batsman’s blade.
And knowing the trick, the variations of speed at which they were bowled by made it a grueling task for the batsmen at the back-end of the innings to score runs at a faster rate and sometimes resulting to a loss of a wicket failing to gauge the speed of the delivery.
INCREDIBLE RECORD IN DEFENDING TOTALS:
The variety of slow and spin bowlers that CSK adds for their home matches has been an enigma in structuring some of the incredible victories from direness of situations. They haven’t been unstoppable or unbeatable in certain seasons at home but they are talked as a side choking out the opposition in defending rather competitive totals that seems to be match winning on any other surface.
|YEAR||NUMBER OF TIMES CSK BATTED FIRST AT CHEPAUK||NUMBER OF TIMES CSK WON BATTING FIRST AT CHEPAUK|
CSK’s incredible performance at home has also got to do with their retention policy in the IPL auctions. From Stephen Fleming, Mathew Hayden, George Bailey in previous seasons to Dwayne Smith, Michael Hussey, Faf Du Plesis and Brendon McCullum till date- there has been a change and chop approach in their batting order but it is the core of the bowling lineup that remained same all over the seasons being suitable to the home conditions.
The retention of Ashwin, Bravo, Jadeja and to the extent Suresh Raina made it easier in identifying the strength of their bowling line up contributing as a significant factor in structuring the incredible wins at home.
The bowlers showcased the prominent role of defending low scores and competitive totals which gives them the added advantage of making into the knock out stage without many concerns keeping their legacy intact and instilling a strong belief that a match against CSK at Chepauk isn’t over until it’s finally over.