As the halfway stage of the Indian Premier League nears, we are slowly getting an idea where this could head. Leaders Delhi Capitals have displayed the wherewithal to comfortably make it to the top-four. Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore are peaking at the right time. Without Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the jury is still out on how Sunrisers Hyderabad may finish. And Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals, lying bottom of the heap, have been both unlucky and sloppy.
But is it time Chennai Super Kings admit they are not good at chasing anymore? Looks like it. After Saturday’s 37-run defeat to RCB, CSK have now lost five out of seven chases. Once masters of the template of taking a match to the wire and finishing it with a few lusty blows, CSK now look clueless in the middle overs if openers Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis don’t fire. MS Dhoni hasn’t been himself, leaving bulk of the work to Ambati Rayudu and Ravindra Jadeja. But in a tournament as long as this, Rayudu and Jadeja can’t be expected to successfully anchor every chase. (IPL 2020 Full Coverage)
In choosing to bat, RCB wanted to validate their ability to defend totals (two wins before Saturday, including a Super Over finish). Their bowling attack already possesses the guile of Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar. But the addition of Chris Morris, who finished with 3/19 on Saturday, has finally lent the balance RCB has been craving for some time now.
Their batting endured a few moments of turmoil though. Asked to chase again, CSK sought to cut to size Bangalore’s top heavy batting. And they did quite well when in the 11th over, Shardul Thakur dismissed both Devdutt Padikkal and AB de Villiers. Padikkal was a tad early into his attempted heave over mid-off and was easily caught by Faf du Plessis. Three deliveries later, Thakur got de Villiers to edge his good length delivery.
Kohli, who till then was content farming the strike, slowly got into his elements. From 25 from 20, Kohli ended at 90 off 52 balls as he engineered the finish Bangalore were seeking—the last four overs fetching 14, 24, 14 and 14 runs. In reply, Chennai Super Kings didn’t show the gumption to attack RCB’s bowling. Rayudu did pair up with Narayan Jagadeesan to 64 runs for the third wicket but it never looked too threatening. And once they departed, the rest of the batting too crumbled under the pressure of an ever mounting asking rate.