Finish of the chase

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 8

Last night in Abu Dhabi, playing against Kolkata Knight Riders, Chennai Super Kings beautifully displayed the art of making a hash of an elementary run chase. Their fourth defeat in IPL-13 — all four have come in chases, as have the two wins — mirrors the fortunes of their ageing squad.

CSK’s 4 losses

  • Sep 22: Beaten by Rajasthan by 16 runs

  • Sep 25: Beaten by Delhi by 44 runs

  • Oct 2: Beaten by Hyderabad by 7 runs

  • Oct 7: Beaten by Kolkata by 10 runs

As they chased 168 for victory, CSK were 90/1 in 10 overs, with Shane Watson batting on 43 and Ambati Rayudu on 24. With 78 required off 60 balls, victory seemed guaranteed. But only 20 runs were scored in the next five overs without a single boundary, and both Watson and Rayudu fell.

The equation changed — 58 required from 30 balls, at 11.60 runs an over. This was the sort of situation that made captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s reputation as a cool, masterly organiser of a chase in international cricket. The days of Dhoni’s glory at the international stage are long gone, and it’s clear he’s unable to marshal a chase even against the relatively modest bowling attacks of the IPL. He made 11 off 12 balls before falling in the 17th over, and it was only Ravindra Jadeja’s 8-ball 21 that reduced the margin of defeat.

Failed chases

After chasing down Mumbai Indians’ 162 in the first match, CSK have faltered in four chases — losing by 16 runs to Rajasthan Royals, by 44 runs to Delhi Capitals, by seven runs to Sunrisers Hyderabad and 10 runs to KKR. Before the loss to KKR, they’d chased down 178 by Kings XI Punjab without losing a wicket — talk about wild swings in performance!

“In the middle overs, there was a phase when they bowled two-three good overs. Then we lost two-three wickets in a row. If our batting was different during that period, the result would have been different,” Dhoni said last night.

Dhoni promoted himself to No. 4, but could not complete a chase yet again. In the four defeats, his scores have been 29 off 17 balls, 15 off 12 balls, 47 off 35 balls and 11 off 12 balls; he batted once in the two wins, remaining unbeaten on 0 off two balls against MI. But you can’t put all the blame on Dhoni’s door, the others have been below-par as well. Kedar Jadhav remained unbeaten on seven off 11 balls against KKR.

“There were hardly any boundaries in the last three overs,” Dhoni said. “You have to be slightly innovative in these scenarios. If someone is bowling just back of a length, you have to find a way to hit boundaries. We did not adapt well.”

Considering Jadhav’s defensive strokes, that’s an understatement. CSK have got into a hole and it seems no one in the team has the power to pull them out of it.

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