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Monday, November 23, 2020

A season too far: CSK’s chances seem all but over after another tepid loss as RR move to fifth spot

Buttler takes Royals home after CSK’s muddled batting approach.

Written by Vishal Menon | Updated: October 20, 2020 3:12:07 pm
ipl 2020Jos Buttler of Rajasthan Royals and MS Dhoni captain of Chennai Superkings after the match. (BCCI/IPL)

There is a sense of impending doom every time MS Dhoni gets run out. A lacklustre batting performance notwithstanding, Chennai Super Kings seamers provided a glimmer of hope when they had Rajasthan Royals in strife at 28/3. Ultimately, it was Jos Buttler’s masterful unbeaten 48-ball 70 that steered them through choppy waters. The 7-wicket win catapulted Steve Smith’s team to fifth spot in the points table, and with a chance of clinching a spot in the playoffs. For bottom-placed CSK, they could do with a bit of soul-searching.

CSK’s muddled batting approach

Rarely does one see bowlers exerting complete control over batsmen in an IPL game. That’s exactly what transpired when Chennai Super Kings batsmen were up against Rajasthan Royals in Abu Dhabi on Monday evening. They were facing a fiery Jofra Archer and two disciplined leg-spinners in Shreyas Gopal and Rahul Tewatia, on a slow, gripping surface.

Despite these challenges, there was no excuse for their shoddy batting performance. A score of 125/5 was pretty abysmal, one that hardly gave their bowlers a chance. The real issue was the utter lack of intent from their batsmen. Chennai lost their two in-form batsmen – Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson – inside the Powerplay. In the eight overs after the field restrictions, CSK choked under the pressure applied by the Royals’ spinners. Bowling in tandem, Gopal and Tewatia conceded just 32 runs and removed Sam Curran and Ambati Rayudu. From 43/2 after six overs, Chennai stuttered to 85/4 in the 14th over. The only crumb of comfort came during a 51-run fifth-wicket stand between Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja. But even this partnership did little to drag them to a position of respectability. The CSK captain, who has looked a pale shadow of himself in this tournament, not only struggled with his timing, as the big hits also deserted him. Dhoni’s gamble of keeping wickets intact for a potential blitzkrieg in the end never paid off as he was run out in the 18th over for a run-a-ball 28.

Read| We didn’t see the spark in our youngsters to push them in, says MS Dhoni

Buttler takes Royals home

Shane Warne calls Jos Buttler his cricketing crush. For good reason. Over the years, the wicketkeeper- batsman has been an irresistible force in the shorter formats for England and Rajasthan Royals. Barring that 70 in the lost cause against Mumbai Indians, this season had been a grind for the 30-year-old. But he came with a typical counter-attacking knock that eased his team to victory on Monday.

What made the knock more impressive were the circumstances under which it was orchestrated. In pursuit of 126, the Royals had lost three wickets upfront for precious little on the board when Buttler walked out to bat. But he absorbed the pressure and took control of proceedings to ace the chase. The unbeaten 98-run stand with Smith took Royals past the finish line with the captain playing second fiddle.

Brief Scores: RR 126/3 in 17.3 overs (Jos Buttler 70 not out) beat CSK 125/5 (Ravindra Jadeja 35 not out, Jofra Archer 1/20, Shreyas Gopal 1/14) by 7 wickets.

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