Today’s battle was between the ex-captain and the future captain of the Indian cricket team. Dhoni has achieved everything that a captain could think of in his wildest dreams and Shreyas is slated to reach great heights, as a leader in the next 10 years for Indian cricket. So, in a way it was a war between the old warhorse, who has been there and done it, and the Young Turk, looking forward to making his mark in world cricket.
If you want to know, what a captain’s confidence can do for you, look at Prithvi Shaw tonight. Against KXIP he got out to a horrendous hack across the line that robbed his side of the luxury of a solid start. Shreyas Iyer and Ricky Ponting could have removed him from the line-up and replaced him with the seasoned pro – Rahane. But they kept trust on the youngster and informed him about his responsibilities and immediately you see a marked change in approach from Prithvi Shaw. Today he was solid from the start, running hard between the wickets and playing with a straight bat. He was ably supported by the senior pro, Dhawan and both of them gave a dream start to Delhi.
After spending a bit of time in the middle, the glorious cover drives and backfoot punches of Shaw started to take effect. It was so refreshing to see an explosive batsman pacing his innings in T20 cricket. Shaw reaped rewards for his persistence and scored an excellent 64 to give his side a strong headstart.
CSK has started to have quite a big issue with the 8 overs of spin- which was ironically their strength back in Chennai. Dubai is dry, but the ball skids on if the spinner is not giving the ball enough air. For 2 matches in a row, both Chawla and Jadeja misfired to hand over the advantage to the opposition in the middle overs. The fact, that both their spinners essentially fire the ball with pace, is increasing the woes for Dhoni.
After both Dhawan and Shaw were dismissed, Iyer and Pant held forte for the Capitals. Pant, for once, played excellent cricketing shots, doing proper justice to his excellent capability as a batsman. The cover drive he played off Hazelwood is one that you can watch on rewind for ages. Pant and Iyer ensured that DC does not fall away after a good solid start. They kept the momentum building for the slog overs, where Stoinis joined Pant and both of them took the Delhi score to 175. If Shaw’s inning was the cornerstone of the first innings, the cameos of 20s and 30s by Pant and Iyer were equally important in setting up an excellent target for Chennai.
Hazelwood, replacing Ngidi, was fabulous with the ball tonight. He has built his impression in the international circuit as a powerplay bowler, but he looked equally potent at the death as well. If Hazelwood can take responsibility for death bowling, Dhoni will have one crease, less on his forehead, at least as long as Bravo does not return.
CSK began in a familiar fashion-a slow solid start trying to keep wickets at hand. Watson has been having beautiful starts from the last match but was unable to carry on for the long innings today as well. Du Plessis, the only batsman in form for the yellow army, looked good in his stay at the wicket as well. But, CSK is becoming that kid, who studies long and hard before the exam, and has the best notes in the entire class but reaches the exam hall 1 hour late. No matter, how much he hustles, he cannot finish the exam on time.
In a chase of 176, CSK were 44 for 2 after 9 overs. A classic case of delaying the boundary hitting so late, that no matter how much they hustle, they cannot reach the target on time. This has been a technique, that has historically worked with CSK, because then Dhoni, as a batsman was on song and he would score those unbelievable targets in the last 3-4 overs. But Dhoni (as he admitted) has got rusty, because of his lack of touch with international cricket, and let’s face it, nobody in the CSK line up except Dhoni can pull off 70 in the last 4 overs. So, maybe CSK needs to rethink their tried and tested strategy a bit.
Kagiso Raba was the start with the ball for DC again, picking up 3 wickets for only 24 off his 4 overs. But the real difference between the sides was the spinners. Axar Patel, who bowls generally in the late 90-100 kmph slowed himself down to around 90-92 kmph speed tonight and extracted purchase from the surface. Amit Mishra, the veteran leggie, replacing Ashwin tonight is usually loopy through the air and he used the pitch to good effect as well. CSK spinners may get inspired form their counterparts going forward.
Kedar Jadhav, Du Plessis, and even Dhoni tried their best. But as has been the story for CSK, this season, it was TOO LITTLE TOO LATE. CSK is missing Rayudu and hopefully, he will be fit before their next match. Also, CSK may just want to rejig their combination a bit to accommodate Mitchel Santner, as his loppy style of left-arm spin, may suit the sand-based Dubai wickets.
Slog over bowling for DC was not tested today. Nortje went the distance last match against Mayank. I still feel Keemo Paul is a better bowler for DC going forward, keeping the death overs concerns in mind. However, as of today, full marks for Iyer for his inspired leadership and keeping trust in his players, rather than chopping and changing.