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Friday, October 22, 2021

IPL 2021: CSK off to a flying restart after beating MI by 20 runs

As the IPL 2021 resumed following the break, Chennai Super Kings beat Mumbai Indians by 20 runs after Ruturaj Gaikwad's unbeaten 88 steadies the ship.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty |
Updated: September 20, 2021 7:45:47 am
Chennai Super Kings' MS Dhoni celebrates the fall of a wicket with his teammates against Mumbai Indians. (IPL)

For the first 10 overs, the game followed a predictable script before it changed and shifted towards Chennai Super Kings’ direction. Ruturaj Gaikwad was central to the change, through his classy batting. Then, Deepak Chahar lived up to his Powerplay reputation, taking a couple of crucial wickets, mixing brain with brawn.

Without Rohit Sharma at the top and Hardik Pandya at the death, Mumbai Indians missed the winning mojo. 156/6 posted by CSK wasn’t a winning total. But the degree of difficulty is higher for the batsmen in Dubai, with a bigger outfield and help for the seamers, compared to the venues in India. And once MS Dhoni gets a fighting total, he is a master of defending it. CSK won by 20 runs, restricting MI to 136/8 in 20 overs.

Gaikwad’s classy batting

Gaikwad’s introduction to international cricket a couple months ago in Sri Lanka wasn’t a resounding success.

He made 21 and 14 in the two T20Is he played. But even during those two knocks, his talent was unmissable, a reason why the young opener is rated so highly in the CSK camp. When wickets were falling around him in the beginning, Gaikwad showed composure. He was ready to weather the storm and waited for the spinners to come. Quinton de Kock dropped him on 19 off Rahul Chahar, his only blemish. He beautifully paced his innings. Kieron Pollard’s tactical error played to his advantage, but we would come to that later.

Pollard, the stand-in MI captain had the advantage of losing the toss on an unknown surface, fresh in nature and greenish in look. Dhoni chose to bat first but CSK were soon on the back foot. The ball swung a touch and seamed. But to start with, it also got stuck on the pitch, which was a little two-paced.

The undercooked CSK batsmen, bereft of game time coming into the second phase of the IPL, expectedly found it difficult. Faf du Plessis sliced a shortish Trent Boult delivery to wide gully in the first over. Moeen Ali toe-ended another short ball from Adam Milne because it arrived late.

A quicker one from Milne landed on Ambati Rayudu’s forearm, forcing him to retire hurt. Through an agricultural four off Boult followed by his dismissal next ball, Suresh Raina never looked comfortable and Dhoni unerringly picked the deep square leg fielder, attempting to pull Milne.

After 10 overs, CSK were 44/4 when Gaikwad rose to the challenge. The pitch offered no assistance to the spinners. Chahar, being a leggie, still managed to push the odd one through, but Krunal Pandya’s finger-spin was easy picking for Gaikwad.

A six and a couple of fours – one by Ravindra Jadeja – triggered an upward surge. His half-century came with a four against Pollard. The sweep off Jasprit Bumrah for a six in the final ball of the innings oozed audacity, easily the shot of the match. Gaikwad’s 88 not out off 58 balls was a match-winning effort. His 81-run fifth-wicket partnership with Jadeja (64 balls) gave Dwayne Bravo the license to swing at the death – 23 off eight balls.

Chahar’s Powerplay bowling

He got the better of de Kock with late swing, the ball coming back and trapping the left-hander plumb in front, confirmed by DRS. The debutant Anmolpreet Singh’s scalp was an excellent piece of cricket. The previous delivery was short and fast, hitting the batsman on the shoulder. A knuckleball came next, with Singh playing early and the off-stump getting disturbed.

To defend the total, CSK needed to take wickets in Powerplay. They took three – Shardul Thakur seeing off Suryakumar Yadav. Chahar finished his first spell with the figures of 3-0-9-2. Towards the end, the medium-pacer suffered a cramp and his team surely would be concerned.

Dhoni’s captaincy was superb. Ishan Kishan’s wicket was a tactical masterstroke. Raina at short cover and Bravo bowling a touch slower outside the off-stump was the plan, knowing Kishan’s inclination to play on the up. The wicketkeeper-batsman fell into the trap. Bringing back Josh Hazlewood after Jadeja looked innocuous in his first over was another example. Hazlewood, expensive in his first spell, trapped Pollard LBW in the first ball of his second spell.

MI miss Rohit

A left knee “discomfort” that surfaced during the Oval Test, kept Rohit out of this game. MI coach Mahela Jayawardene spoke about “precaution”. The defending champions missed Rohit’s batting and captaincy. When they had the chance to grab the game by the lapels, Pollard let it drift. He gave Bumrah only one over upfront and didn’t bring him back readily, when the Gaikwad-Jadeja partnership was getting into the groove.

Brief Scores: Chennai Super Kings: 156 for 6 in 20 overs (R Gaikwad 88 not out, R Jadeja 26, D Bravo 23; A Milne 2/21, J Bumrah 2/33, T Boult 2/35) beat Mumbai Indians: 136 for 8 in 20 overs. (S Tiwary 50 not out, Q de Kock 17; D Bravo 3/25, D Chahar 2/19).

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