The day I was waiting for has come! The Super Kings have lost a match in the playoffs, at the same time pushing Mumbai Indians straight into the final.
To be honest, this CSK team is looking tired now. They rode for the whole of last season and this season’s group stage on the MSD factor along with pure sheer luck, but they are running out of both now. And I know I’m going to sound very conservative when I say this, but no team with an average age north of 30 can continuously win a league such as the IPL. The label of ‘Dad’s Army’ that was given to CSK has now begun to haunt them. Their players have experience in surplus, but they lack the mindset that the young players in a team like MI have. After this match, given the poor record of CSK outside of Chepauk, and the poor form of their players, I think CSK won’t be able to repeat their 2018 campaign. But if they do, then it will be due to Dhoni’s captaincy and/or batting.
The biggest negative from this match for me would be the Chepauk pitch. That’s just not how a T20 pitch can behave! That pitch was like a pitch on the 3rd or 4th day of a test match. No wonder CSK wins every match there! They have the best spinners in all the teams. That’s a different sort of advantage altogether. And the only reason Mumbai have been able to beat them there so frequently is because their Indian batsmen play spin very well. This pitch has to be improved. Next year, if the pitch is not improved then I don’t think CSK should play there. It’s not fair to the other teams or to the viewers watching who will get a boring 70 all out game.
The CSK innings didn’t really get off to a good start. But the newcomer Murali Vijay and the out-of-form Ambati Rayudu stitched together quite a successful partnership. After Vijay’s wicket in the 13th over Dhoni came in. Both Rayudu and Dhoni kept playing quite defensively and the run rate kept declining. Then there was that one Jayant Yadav over when both of them tinker him around the park and I thought that okay, this is the over when the game turns and CSK changes gears to reach a total like 165 from a point where 130 was looking difficult. But it wasn’t. The next 3-4 overs were played out like the middle overs in an ODI match. I think Dhoni has tasted so much success dispatching every ball for a boundary in the last two overs that he has started backing himself to do that in every game. But he can’t do that! Nobody can! In this game, much like CSK’s last one, Dhoni took the game till the last over to hit some shots. He failed both times. Above all things, CSK’s dependency on Dhoni shone through against MI.
Credit has to be given to the MI team management who played a right arm off-spinner in place of a left arm leggie who would have surely been more tempting. Jayant Yadav surely did his work, got one wicket and held on to 2 catches.
The MI chase was well calculated and it was the partnership between two Indian youngsters, Suryakumar Yadav, and Ishan Kishan’s partnership which took the game far away from the Super Kings. Suryakumar, in particular was impressive and built his innings of 71 very well. He has finally embraced form right before the playoffs, and I don’t think MI is complaining. His man of the match award was well deserved.
DC Vs SRH
Now that’s it for this match. MI will be waiting for the other team who reaches the final in Hyderabad. As for today’s match between DC and SRH, it is the clash of David and Goliath. DC finished on 18 points while SRH could secure only 12. DC are coming off the back of a win while SRH reach Vizag after 2 losses. Although SRH will be a broken team, that is what will give them the need to win this match. DC on the other hand, will be much more confident, and will back themselves to push aside SRH. I will be supporting the Capitals but something tells me that we’ll be seeing a repeat of last year’s final in the Qualifier 2 this year.