MS Dhoni finished his innings off in international cricket earlier this year, on 15th August by posting a song video of “Main Pal do Pal ka shayar hoon”. It’s a song that Dhoni has held very dearly to his heart and he has come out time and again in media to state the essential life lesson that this evergreen Bollywood hit conveys.
However, Match No. 1 of Dream 11 IPL only went on to prove the futility of this song for the legend that MS Dhoni is. Perhaps a song more suitable for MS is the following
“Ap har ek pal ka shayar hain
Har ek pal apki kahani
Har Ek pal apki hasti hai
Har ek pal apki jawani”
Not only did Captain Cool light up the opening match of the IPL with his tactical brilliance but he also made optimum usage of the limited resources he had in his hand. CSK started the tournament with 2 huge holes in their first 11. Suresh Raina, who has been the most prolific IPL player of all time and who has lent so much balance to the CSK outfit for more than a decade, chose to opt-out of the tournament, days before the first match. Harbhajan Singh, who has delivered overs in the powerplay for CSK consistently over the last 2 years, made himself unavailable for the league this year. Add to this, an injured Dwayne Bravo, who could not bowl in the CPL final and you have a team that is supposed to be distraught mentally and physically, even before the tournament gets underway. Well, if your captain is the evergreen Shayar who makes ‘har Ek pal’ his own, you need not worry because just like today, he will wield his magic wand and mesmerize the opposition with his game awareness.
Mumbai began their innings on an excellent note. Deepak Chahar was off-color and Lungi Ngidi was not looking at his fittest self. Mumbai cashed in on the opportunity and got to 40 in 4 overs. Dhoni realized that the pacers were not only leaking runs but also allowing Rohit to dig in deep for a marathon inning. The leg spinner was brought into the attack and voila! Rohit could not adjust his bat swing to the slowness of the wicket and lifts a good length ball tamely to mid-wicket.
De Kock followed Rohit soon. Saurabh Tiwari looked in very good touch and he will want to recreate the dream season he had for MI in the IPL 2010. Surya Kumar Yadav and Hardik played ideal second fiddle to him to take the MI score to 121-3 in 14 overs.
Now the Dhoni magic began to take effect once again. Hardik Pandya smacked Jadeja for 2 consecutive sixes in the 12th over of the match. The ball traveled with the wind and cleared the boundary line by a massive margin. Knowing that both Tiwari and Hardik will take on the left-arm spinner, he brought Jadeja on from the other end for his last over. It was an open invitation to the batsmen to hit Jadeja against the wind and he stationed his best fielder at long-on.
Both the batsmen succumbed to the bait and Du Plessis took 2 breathtaking catches on the boundary line to trigger a collapse in the MI middle order. With 2 new batsmen at the crease, Dhoni brought Ngidi on from Jadeja‘s end. Krunal, unfortunately, nicked one down the leg side to hasten the slide. Finally, MI collapsed to 162-9 from their 20 overs, scoring 41-6 in their last 6 overs.
CSK began the chase on a sedate note. Shane Watson and Murali Vijay, both of whom have been out of international cricket for so long, were found wanting against the swing and pace of Boult & Pattinson. However, Faf and the controversially “3-D” No. 4 Rayudu, steadied the ship and gradually brought the momentum towards CSK. The fact, that Hardik Pandya did not bowl, made it tougher for Rohit, as he was left in the field with fewer bowling options. Chahar and Krunal were slightly off the radar in the match and that ensured that Faf and Rayudu dominated the much important middle over phase.
Once Rayudu fell to Rahul Chahar, Dhoni’s tactical brilliance came to the fore yet again. Boult and Pattinson had one over each, up their sleeve and Dhoni was aware that both of them caused severe problems to Watson and Du Plessis with their natural away swingers at the beginning of the innings. Hence, the captain decided to send in lefties to encounter this issue. While Jadeja proved effective against the left-arm spinner Krunal, Sam Curran easily tonked Pattinson as the natural away swinger to the right-hander, became an in-swinger to the English Allrounder. Sam Curran justified his promotion in the batting line-up with a 6-ball-18 and he looks a good replacement for Dwayne Bravo in case, the later is unavailable for subsequent games. Finally, Faf played the role of a sheet anchor to finish off an easy chase for the men in yellow.
The biggest concern for Rohit going forward will be the form of Bumrah and the availability of Hardik, the bowler. Hardik the bowler lends the much-required balance to the team giving them 6 full bowlers in the lineup. It has been either Bumrah or Malinga, for the Men in Blue in the title, winning years and Rohit would want his premier fast bowler to be back in form as soon as possible. Rohit lacked resources on the field and he would want a better show from his team, as the tournament proceeds.