The Chennai Super Kings (CSK) have had a change in fortune in the second half of the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The side that has managed to qualify for the playoffs in every season of the IPL they've played in now finds themselves in the last position in the points table.
The side has not clicked as a unit for most of the season. Despite a few memorable victories, CSK has suffered many bad defeats. They have won just three in ten games before their most recent game against RCB.
However, the win against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) has given CSK fans a reason to celebrate. Dhoni's men were able to successfully chase a total of 145 runs with eight balls and eight wickets to spare. In comparison to their previous matches, CSK conducted themselves very differently on the field.
There were many reasons why CSK got a resounding win against an RCB unit that has done rather well this season. We look at three factors which ensured that the three-time IPL champions reigned supreme in the South-Indian derby.
1) Ensuring RCB didn't finish big
The biggest factor that swung the momentum in CSK's favor was their death bowling. Bowlers generally don't enjoy coming in at the death overs when there are two set batsmen at the crease. Even more so when those two batsmen happen to be one of the best batting pairs in world cricket - Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.
With Kohli and de Villiers having been in the middle for over 11 overs, RCB was looking set for a big finish. The duo kept accumulating quick singles and twos and went after the occasional bad ball.
However, an AB-Kohli special was not on the cards as Sam Curran and Deepak Chahar used the Dubai stadium's big boundaries to their advantage, effectively dismissing de Villiers and Kohli respectively. AB de Villiers was the first to go in the 18th over and Kohli followed after the last ball of the 19th over.
The CSK bowlers did extremely well in the death by bowling the right length and varying their pace on this slow pitch, which resulted in RCB scoring just 31 runs in the last four overs.
2) Faf du Plessis's fielding masterclass
Faf du Plessis has pulled off some screamers on the boundary line for CSK this year. Tonight's game against RCB was no different as the former South African captain went on to take two catches.
The 36-year-old's first moment of brilliance occurred when RCB opener Devdutt Padikkal smashed a delivery from Mitchell Santner in between long-on and mid-wicket. Du Plessis was able to sprint in the direction of the ball, take the catch close to the boundary line and pass it on to Ruturaj Gaikwad before he had a chance to touch the rope.
After a regulation catch to help dismiss AB de Villiers, du Plessis then pulled off a screamer to dismiss Virat Kohli. This was a game-changing moment as the RCB skipper had just reached his half-century and was looking to get his team past the 160 mark. The catch ended up saving CSK at least 15 runs, if not more.
Du Plessis has now taken 12 catches in 11 games for CSK this year, the most by any player in the IPL so far.
3) An early attack from the CSK top-order
The intent to score runs is something that we have missed seeing from the CSK batting lineup. The side has even lost a few un-losable games because their batsmen have failed to get going.
The story, however, was different against RCB as Faf du Plessis and Ruturaj Gaikwad took the game to a confident RCB bowling department. The pair, after a quiet first over, went on the offensive as they put on 46 runs in just 31 balls for the first wicket.
Ambati Rayudu came in after the fall of the first wicket and steadied the chase even further. The pair of Gaikwad and Rayudu attacked the RCB bowlers at every opportunity and constantly hit boundaries. The pair rotated the strike extremely well, and most importantly, ensured that they did not give away too many dot balls.
They put on a partnership of 67 runs that came in just 8.2 overs, which pretty much sealed the match for the Men in Yellow.
Gaikwad went on to score a fine maiden IPL fifty with MS Dhoni at the other end, ensuring that his side got past the finish line with eight wickets to spare.
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