It’s quite clear what’s ailing the Chennai Super Kings this season. Their batting, especially the middle order, has been the major weak link in their four losses. They have scored at 7.6 runs per over in the powerplay this year- the second lowest among all teams – and they tend to slow down further in the middle overs. Their middle-overs run rate of 7.5 is the second worst among all teams this season and it has not worked well with their tradition of taking the games deep, especially given the fact that they’ve had to chase in all the six games this season. In the match against the Kolkata Knight Riders, they didn’t play like a team that had chased down 178 with ten wickets to spare in their previous game against the Kings XI Punjab.
The only team that has worse numbers than the Super Kings in the middle overs are the Royal Challengers Bangalore. The Royal Challengers’ batting struggles cost them their last match against the Delhi Capitals. They lost three wickets within the powerplay, and with the asking rate soaring, their captain Virat Kohli couldn’t help much, with hardly any support from the other end, as they eventually lost by 59 runs. While both sides will want improvements from their middle orders, the Royal Challengers have also been struggling with their death bowling, which has been a long-standing issue for them. Their bowlers have conceded at 12.9 – the second-worst behind Kings XI Punjab – this season.
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Kedar Jadhav in particular has come in for sharp criticism for his 7 off 12 balls against the Knight Riders, having arrived with 39 needed off 21 balls. Among all teams Jadhav has featured for in IPL, his performance for the Super Kings has been the worst – he has averaged 20.3 in 17 matches. He has the lowest strike rate (98) for a player batting in top seven (minumum 15 innings) since IPL 2018. The Super Kings have always been a team who’ve kept faith in their players, but will they make some big calls and tinker with their XI to put their campaign back on track?
In the news
The Royal Challengers’ captain Kohli said after the game on Monday that allrounder Chris Morris was “very close to playing”. If he’s fit, he could come in for Isuru Udana or Moeen Ali and help fix their death bowling.
Chennai Super Kings: 1 Shane Watson, 2 Faf du Plessis, 3 Ambati Rayudu, 4 Kedar Jadhav, 5 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 Sam Curran, 9 Shardul Thakur, 10 Deepak Chahar, 11 Karn Sharma/Piyush Chawla
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Devdutt Padikkal, 2 Aaron Finch, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 AB de Villiers (wk), 5 Moeen Ali, 6 Washington Sundar,7 Shivam Dube, 8 Chris Morris, 9 Navdeep Saini, 10 Mohammad Siraj, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
The Royal Challengers could push Ali to No.4 as he has great numbers against left-arm spinners and legspinners, striking at 165 and 171 respectively. So, Ali could take on Ravindra Jadeja and Karn Sharma in the middle overs. This move will also push AB de Villiers down to No. 5 and allow him to take on the death overs, a phase where he strikes at 222.
Bring in spin early against Aaron Finch? Finch has been dismissed twice inside the powerplay this season, both by spinners. While Finch has troubles with incoming deliveries against quicks, the Super Kings could also open with a spinner at the other end. He has been dismissed four times by spinners and his average of 14.8 is the worst among players to have scored 50-plus runs against spin this season.
Getting de Villiers out inside the first 10 balls is key as he has been striking at a staggering 195 after facing 10-plus balls since IPL 2019. He has struggled to get going against spinners in the first 10 balls, losing his wicket four times and striking at just 97 against them.
Stats that matter
Does MS Dhoni love playing against the Royal Challengers? The last time Royal Challengers got Dhoni out was way back in 2017 when he was part of the now-defunct Rising Pune Supergiant. Since IPL 2018, they are the only opponents against whom Dhoni has struck at over 170. Three of his five highest scores in the IPL have come against the Royal Challengers. While all other Super Kings batsmen have an average record against Yuzvendra Chahal, striking at less than 100 against him, Dhoni averages 75 and scores at 144 against the legspinner.
In ten matches this IPL at Dubai, teams winning the toss have opted to bowl seven times and ended up losing the game on all occasions. Sunrisers Hyderabad are the only team to have opted to bat first and won the game. The side chasing has won just once, when the Super Kings beat Kings XI by 10 wickets, after Rahul opted to bat first.
Kohli needs 31 runs to reach 6000 runs for Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Dhoni needs to clear the boundary once to reach 300 sixes in T20s.
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