Chennai Super Kings witnessed a dramatic change in their fortunes in IPL 2021 after a poor display in the UAE last season. Not only were they the best batting unit of the tournament but also boasted of the most potent bowling attack in the competition. It was again a close fight between them and the Delhi Capitals with the ball too but the collective ability of the CSK unit to annihilate the opposition line-up in three of their seven matches in the tournament tilted the balance in their favour.
THREE GREAT PERFORMANCES WITH THE BALL
The CSK bowling unit picked a total of 43 wickets in the 7 matches they played in the tournament. Their wickets per match ratio of 6.14 was marginally higher than the Capitals whose tally of 48 wickets took an extra match.
CSK gave three great performances with the ball. They restricted the Punjab Kings to 106 for 8, kept the Rajasthan Royals to 143 for 9 in pursuit of a target of 188 and routed RCB and bowled them out of the match containing them to a paltry 122 for 9 when the target was in the 190s. Interestingly all these performances came at the Wankhede in Mumbai. This suggests that when the CSK bowlers were good with the ball they were brilliant. Not only did they pick at least 8 opposition wickets in each of these matches but also restricted the scoring rate significantly.
The Capitals produced one such great bowling performance which resulted in a win. They reduced the Mumbai Indians to 137 for 9 in Chennai before chasing down the total with plenty to spare.
MARGIN OF VICTORIES AND NET RUN RATE
The Super Kings feature twice in the top 3 margin of victories (in terms of runs). They beat RCB by 69 runs before defeating the Royals by 45 runs. Their third win batting first came by a margin of 18 runs while they also registered two comfortable chases - one each by 7 and 6 wickets respectively. Thus, they won all their 5 matches by a convincing margin. The Capitals were brilliant while chasing recording three wins by a margin of 7 wickets and a couple by 6 wickets but played the only tie of the tournament against the Sunrisers in Chennai which they eventually won in the Super Over.
CSK had a bowling strike rate of 19.23 in the tournament.
It is because of this reason that CSK’s Net Run Rate of 1.263 was, by far, the highest in the season. The Capitals were second best but at a distant 0.547.
While Avesh Khan was outstanding in the season and picked up a heap of wickets returning as the joint second-highest wicket taker of the tournament (14 wickets) he did not produce any outright match-winning performance with the ball for CSK. Kagiso Rabada - the highest wicket-taker of IPL 2020 and DC’s main threat with the ball was below par this season and bagged just 8 wickets in 7 matches.
In comparison, Deepak Chahar of CSK was inconsistent in wicket-taking but produced two Player of the Match performances running through the top-order of both Punjab Kings and KKR resulting in a win for his franchise. Those were the only 8 wickets he picked in the tournament but the impact they had was what made his bowling effective and potent. Chahar reduced the Punjab Kings to 26 for 5 from which they could never really recover and broke the backbone of the KKR top-order picking four wickets in the powerplay.
Sam Curran was CSK’s leading wicket-taker with 9 wickets.
THE MASTER RESTRICTORS - JADEJA AND MOEEN ALI
Ravindra Jadeja and Moeen Ali not only produced the cameos with the bat but also chipped in with crucial breakthroughs and were very economical in the middle overs. Jadeja had an economy rate of just 6.7 delivering as many as 24 overs in the tournament. Ali chipped in with 12 overs and was very restrictive too with an economy rate of just 6.16. Imran Tahir played just one match but picked a couple of wickets and gave away just 16 runs in his 4 overs. Dwayne Bravo did not pick many but did a good containment job giving away just 7.72 runs per over.
QUALITY OPPOSITION WICKETS
The CSK bowlers got as many as 23 top-order (positions 1-7) wickets cheaply before they could make a substantial contribution. This basically meant that of a possible 49 top-order opposition batting wickets, 23 (47%) were sent back to the pavilion before they could have any impact in the match.