IPL 2020: All eyes on Dhoni as CSK take on Delhi Capitals today
Dhoni is known to take a game deep into the death overs, but how deep is the debate now swirling on the circuit.
After a convincing win over Mumbai Indians in the opening match of the tournament, Chennai Super Kings slipped up unexpectedly against Rajasthan Royals. This might seem harsh considering CSK actually made 200 chasing 216. But beyond these straightforward figures lies a somewhat complicated story.
Having won the toss and chosen to field, CSK's bowling was found badly wanting. Sanju Samson played a buccaneering knock to put CSK under the pump from the start, and it became increasingly painful for Dhoni's team as the innings progressed, climaxing in a horrid last over by Ngidi in which Archer clobbered 30 runs.
On a featherbed pitch, CSK were not entirely out of the match, but did not get the start they wanted. The innings looked in disarray till Faf du Plessis decided he wasn't going down without a fight. However, he needed a partner to see the team through. Dhoni looked the best man in this role but the script didn't turn out as imagined.
Dhoni's known to take a game deep into the death overs, but how deep is the debate now swirling on the circuit. By the time he opened his shoulders and started tonking the ball - including the biggest six of the tournament yet - CSK had fallen way behind the asking rate. The run charge had its moments, but was it left till too late is the moot question
Two further questions emerge. Did CSK fail because of tactics, or does this ageing side not have enough steam to take up such challenges? A few years back, against a batting line-up of Watson, Vijay, du Plessis and Dhoni 216 may have been insufficient.
The only way to stymie such queries from growing is through performances in the field, and CSK will be looking to regain lost ground when they take on Delhi Capitals on Friday. Somewhat lucky against Kings XI, DC are a young side brimming with talent and bristling with ambition, in which the influence of coach Ricky Ponting is evident.
DC's strength is in its strong top order featuring Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant, though against Kings, it was Aussie Marcus Stoinis who saved them the blushes with a spanking half century and two wickets that took the match into the Super Over, and subsequently to a sensational win.
The biggest threat to CSK, however, could come from pace ace Kagiso Rabada. He is now the highest wicket-taker in the IPL over the last two seasons with 27 wickets. More significantly, 20 of these have come in the death overs (16-20).
Both teams have injury problems to key players. Without Ambati Rayudu, CSK miss out on a high quality top order batsman, and if Ravi Ashwin's damaged shoulder prevents him from playing this match, DC will be without one of the best spinners on the circuit.
Ashwin apart, DC's side look settled, but CSK could be mulling over including Imran Tahir, and hoping Dwayne Bravo recovers from his niggle quickly. The man in focus, however, will inevitably be Dhoni, as batsman and captain.
Players to watch out for:
Dhoni, Jadeja (CSK)
Rabada, Pant (DC)
X Factor: Shane Watson (CSK)
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