After the last game that the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) played, in which they fell short of the target to lose their third match on the trot, skipper MS Dhoni called for better starts at the top and an improved focus on 'the little things'.
It seems that the call for more runs from CSK's top order was what veteran Australian opener Shane Watson needed to shake off his rut and dominate proceedings. He has done so many times in the IPL, and the recipients this time were the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP).
All of KXIP's batsmen, from the sturdy but subdued KL Rahul to the ambitious and innovative Sarfaraz Khan, got some runs at a pace that allowed the team to accumulate 178/4 from their 20 overs.
CSK ensured they picked up wickets just when the batsmen started to look comfortable, ensuring that there were no massive partnerships. Shardul Thakur was a touch expensive, but crucially got two in two at the death to deny KXIP a final flourish from their set batsmen.
In reply, KXIP were hardly able to put pressure on CSK. The Men in Yellow scored 60 from the first 6 overs without losing a wicket. While Du Plessis was the aggressor initially, Watson did eventually catch up, striking some clean hits into the stands as he grew in confidence. The partnership cantered to the 100 and then to the 150 mark, till the finish became a formality.
Several records were set by this partnership - the highest opening partnership for CSK, and the second-highest score chased down without the loss of a wicket, among others. Those on the other side of this onslaught did not have a great game, and were also let down by indifferent fielding in patches.
Here is a look at three players who underperformed during the match.
#3 Dwayne Bravo (CSK)
Dwayne Bravo's name is a key part of CSK lore. Having joined the team when they hit their peak in 2010 to make three consecutive finals, he became integral for them with his variations with the ball and ability to hit the big sixes. He has also been the Purple Cap winner twice for the franchise, in 2013 and 2015.
Entering the playing XI to replace Lungi Ngidi last game, the Trinidadian has played two games now without much success. He has gone wicketless in both games, and has not gotten chances with bat in hand.
In this game, Bravo conceded 38 runs without showing any real incisiveness in the middle overs or at the death, and he was easily taken for runs.
#2 Sheldon Cottrell (KXIP)
KXIP's big-money acquisition, Sheldon Cottrell, opened the bowling for KXIP and was expected to make early inroads. Against an under-fire Watson, Cottrell had the opportunity to dismiss the opener and put immense pressure on the in-form Faf du Plessis, and potentially expose CSK's middle-order batting.
Right from the first over, Cottrell was hit for boundaries, and conceded nine each from his first two overs. The lack of pressure exerted by him meant that KXIP captain Rahul had to keep rotating his bowlers, which was eventually to no avail.
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#1 Chris Jordan (KXIP)
On occasion in this IPL, KXIP's death bowling has come into question, and they have looked a bowler short for the crucial phase of the innings where batsmen look to get as many as they can.
The answer to that problem seemed to be Chris Jordan, who has been a match-winner in national colours as well as in T20 leagues around the world.
Introduced in the sixth over with the field up to take a wicket, Jordan was unable to create a breakthrough. Rather, he allowed Du Plessis to feast on his bowling as the South African smashed smash four boundaries and raced away to 32 off 17.
With CSK at 60/0 at the end of six overs, the pendulum had shifted decisively in favour of the batting team, and KXIP's score looked under significant threat. Jordan would bowl two more ineffective overs to finish with 3-0-42-0 - hardly a memorable night for the experienced pacer.
Published 05 Oct 2020, 00:46 IST