IPL 2020: Chennai Super Kings' Endless Middle Order Batting Woes

The run rate required crept to 10.66 as 64 were needed off the last 36 deliveries. It should still have been CSK’s match – but it was not

IPL 2020: Chennai Super Kings' Endless Middle Order Batting Woes

69 needed off 48 deliveries. Run Rate Required 8.25. Wickets in Hand – 9. At the crease, two established batsmen, Ambati Rayudu on 30 and Shane Watson on 49, together in a potentially match-winning partnership of 69 for the second wicket. This is an easy equation for the team chasing and 8 out of 10 times, any side should have cantered to victory.

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But CSK, three-times IPL title-holders are going through a tough phase.

And it all went drastically wrong for them in the final third of their chase.

From a seemingly winning position, it all fell apart!

Rayudu and Watson were dismissed in successive overs. They were replaced by MS Dhoni and Sam Curran. The run rate required crept to 10.66 as 64 were needed off the last 36 deliveries. It should still have been CSK’s match – but it was not!

So this is what the CSK middle order did in the chase:

Dhoni – 11 off 12 deliveries. He came out to bat with the required rate at 8.81. By the time he was dismissed striking at 5.5 runs per over, the rate required had crept to 11.14.

Jadhav – 39 were needed off 21 deliveries at a rate of 11.14 when Jadhav walked out to bat. He could not score off the first three deliveries he faced. More shockingly, he defended the first two deliveries! There was no intent.

It got worse. He played out two more dot deliveries with the rate almost touching 15! What was Jadhav doing? After NOT SCORING off the first 5 deliveries he faced, Jadhav finally took a single off the sixth. The chase, by now, had gone out of CSK’s hands as they needed 36 off the last 2 overs. Jadhav remained unbeaten on a poor poor 7 off 12 deliveries. Initially, he did not try. When he did, it was too late and then too he could not succeed and was all at sea.

Ravindra Jadeja tried and remained unbeaten on 21 off 8 deliveries. What is baffling is that CSK batted the in-form left-hander at number 7 below the out of form, Jadhav, in spite of the situation of the much where the need of the hour was to score quick runs through boundaries.

Jadhav has scored just 58 runs in 4 innings at a strike rate of 98.3 – it has been a very poor performance by him with the bat so far in the tournament. Coming in to bat at 77 for 4 needing 12.72 per over off the last 11 overs against RR ar Sharjah, Jadhav could just score 22 off 16 deliveries at a rate of 137.5 (or 8.25 per 6 balls). The story was no different against the Capitals in Dubai. Coming out to bat at 44 for 3 with the required rate just above 12 per over, Jadhav could never really get going and scored 26 off 21 deliveries (strike rate of 123.8; 7.43 runs per over). Promotion to number 4 against SRH did not change Jadhav’s luck as he consumed 10 deliveries for his 3. CSK fell short by 8 runs in the chase. Only if Jadhav had not wasted the number of deliveries he did!

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It has been a similar script for MS Dhoni who has just managed to aggregate 102 runs in 5 innings at 129.11 per over. He pushed himself down the order to number 7 and only came out to bat when the rate required had soared to 16 against RR. He then was happy to play out a few dot deliveries and rotate the strike when the need of the hour was fours and sixes. Dhoni’s strategy was baffling! He scored just 10 off the first 13 deliveries he faced. There was no attempt to go for the big shots. There was no attempt to win. When it was all over and dusted with, he then suddenly decided to attack in the last over hitting three sixes on the trot. But why did he not try earlier?

Dhoni seems to have fallen victim to his own methods and cannot come out of it. The MSD of old had the game to take the match into the final overs and then finish with a bang. But, clearly those tactics are not working now for CSK. In fact, they are costing them big time!

He could only muster 15 off 12 deliveries coming into bat in the 16th over against the Capitals – with the required rate already above 18. Again, why did the captain not promote himself up the order remains a million dollar question!

Although he scored an unbeaten 47 off 36 deliveries against SRH in the chase, he could not see them through as CSK fell short by 7 runs. Again, MSD left it a bit too late – the acceleration should have come much earlier. He scored just 15 off his first 18 deliveries playing out as many as 8 dot deliveries.

CSK’s top-order will not fire in every match. Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu need support from the middle and lower-middle order. The management needs to redefine the roles assigned. Dhoni needs to bat up the order and show more urgency early in his innings. Jadhav needs to be dropped.

CSK have lost 4 of the 6 matches in IPL 2020. As we approach the half-way mark in the tournament, they need some dramatic changes in the middle order for them to stage a consistent fightback and be a force to be reckoned with – as they have been in every edition of the IPL.