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IPL 2022: CSK can be formidable if Jadeja rediscovers his mojo

Attention in the match between CSK and RCB will be divided between Dhoni and Virat Kohli, writes Ayaz Memon

CSK all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja. (BCCI)
CSK all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja. (BCCI)

By Ayaz Memon

Published: Wed 4 May 2022, 12:09 AM

The Chennai Super Kings kept their playoff hopes alive in melodramatic fashion, beating Sunrisers Hyderabad by 13 runs in the previous match. MS Dhoni’s reinstatement as captain a day earlier had been a stunning development inviting attention from all quarters.

Would this make any difference to the struggling team’s fortunes?

In the event, it did, and in staggering fashion. Led by a whirlwind 99 by Ruturaj Gaikwad and the massive first wicket partnership of 182 between him and Devon Conway, CSK notched up a massive 202 which proved too much for the Sunrisers.

The win enhanced CSK’s prospects of making the playoffs. But with only six points in the kitty, a lot of hard work still lies ahead.

What Dhoni’s contribution was in this turnaround inevitably become the subject of much discussion after the win since he scored only 8.

The former India captain acquired cult status in the sport because of his leadership and tactical skills, whether for the national team or helming CSK in the IPL over several years with great success. The number of times he’s been able to turn a match on its head with his batting, or by changes in bowling, field placements or batting order, is part of cricket lore.

Sometimes just a few wise and trusting words can be transformational. They can raise the morale of the whole team to shrug off mediocrity and scale new heights.

Perhaps, it was just Dhoni’s reassuring presence at the helm which was inspiring for CSK.

However, while captaincy undoubtedly has a strong bearing on a team’s performance, let’s not forget the old adage that a captain is only as good as his team. No amount of wise and trusting words will have value unless some, or all, players execute the game-plan effectively.

In that respect, Gaikwad’s 99 was a tour de force. It is arguably the best knock by a top-order batsman this season. He not just blunted SRH’s dreaded pace attack, he destroyed it with a spectacular frontal assault

Until this sensational knock, Gaikwad had been struggling badly, which in turn impacted the team’s fortunes adversely. If he can sustain this form, and with Robin Uthappa and Ambati Rayudu in good touch too, the batting looks strong. If Dhoni can now get runs and wickets from Ravindra Jadeja, who freed himself of captaincy responsibilities, CSK can be formidable.

Attention in this match will be divided between Dhoni and Virat Kohli. RCB’s talismanic player made a half-century in the previous match against the Gujarat Titans, but this did not help his team win. It was a somewhat laboured effort by Kohli with the strike rate way below par in this format.

But after a dismal sequence of low scores, Kohli hitting some kind of form can only be good news for the team, stuck on 10 points for a while and looking desperate to get a move on if they have to get into the playoffs.

Kohli becomes a central figure in this quest because RCB’s other major players seem to have hit a trough. The bowling attack featuring Josh Hazlewood, Mohammed Siraj, Harshal Patel and Wanindu Hasaranga has performed well.

But Faf du Plessis, Glenn Maxwell and Dinesh Karthik’s struggle for runs in a previous couple of games has been a major concern.

After an impressive start to the campaign, the RCB are now looking vulnerable. While he is no longer the captain, Kohli could still be the man to inspire the breakthrough.

Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator

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