CSK back in business as they defeat Sunrisers Hyderabad by 6 wickets

Chennai seal playoff spot with a clinical win over Sunrisers Hyderabad, whose season hits dark alley. CSK revel in 6-3 strangulation, thrive on partnership batting

It was threatening to be a little tight for Chennai Super Kings, courtesy a failed Hollywood heave from Moeen Ali and a two-wicket over from Jason Holder that took out Suresh Raina and Faf du Plessis. When Jason Roy flew like Hugo Lloris—Roy is a Tottenham Hotspur fan—and denied MS Dhoni a certain boundary, the equation for CSK was 20 runs off 14 deliveries.

Ambati Rayudu went inside-out next ball and sent a slower one from Siddarth Kaul to extra cover fence followed by a six off Bhuvneshwar Kumar next over. Then Dhoni got into the act, hitting a four off Kumar. The CSK skipper finished it off in style with a six over deep mid-wicket. His team beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by six wickets with two balls remaining to reach the Playoffs.

6-3 strangulation

It was a fresh Sharjah pitch, displaying its old dark hue and shine. On the face of it, the surface promised runs, a throwback to the time when Javed Miandad used to torment India in this part of the world.

Looks can be deceptive though. The ball still stuck on the surface, making stroke-play difficult. At the start, Deepak Chahar purchased some swing as well.

SRH’s listlessness started from their team huddle before the match. Coach Trevor Bayliss gestured his men to come closer and make the huddle tighter. Maybe, team-talk was light-hearted, for both Rashid Khan and Holder were seen smiling. Long before the game began, SRH had seemingly had written off their season.

While batting, they were up against a clear plan from Dhoni and precise execution from the CSK bowlers. A 6-3 field for such a long period is not common in this format, but few can read conditions as sharply as Dhoni. Even at the death, Shardul Thakur was bowling to Khan with only three fielders on the leg-side – a short fine leg, a deep mid-wicket and a long-on. Dhoni’s brief to his pacers was to bowl widish outside the off stump, with a packed off-side field, forcing the batsmen to play across the line. The result: Kane Williamson was out LBW playing across, so were four others, caught to hoick or swipe across the line.

Roy departed in the Powerplay, trying to force a cross-batted shot to a Josh Hazlewood (3/24) delivery from outside the off stump and under-edging it to Dhoni. Fit-again Dwayne Bravo returned to the eleven and as is his wont, used slower deliveries as his stock ball to fantastic effect. Williamson made the mistake of playing across the line to a full delivery on off and he was a tad early into his shot, and also played down the wrong line. Bravo had his first wicket.

His second came when Priyam Garg top-edged an attempted pull – another across-the-line shot – and Dhoni took the skier. Wriddhiman Saha’s laboured knock that had a no-ball reprieve, ended when he tried to pull a Ravindra Jadeja delivery that wasn’t short at all. Abhishek Sharma’s 18 off 13 balls had been enterprising, but in his case also, it was a leg-side dismissal – Faf du Plessis taking the catch at long-on off Hazlewood. Only Abdul Samad and Holder perished to off-side catches.
The SRH innings, calling out for fours and sixes, never had the required momentum. The franchise needs a reboot at the full auction next year.

Partnership batting

Unlike last year, CSK are focusing on brisk starts this season, an approach that has been serving them well. Once again, their openers Ruturaj Gaikwad and du Plessis did the job with a 75-run stand in 10 overs. Though they were chasing a modest 135, they required a good Powerplay, given the strip’s nature. Both got CSK off to a flier—47 for no loss after six overs. Their partnership batting is one of the reasons CSK have turned things around this term.

They looked like a fish out of the water and gasping for breath in the desert for the better part of the IPL last year. This year, CSK have now won four out of four here, taking their tally to 18 points from 11 matches. The so-called ‘Dad’s Army’ also looks much fitter, an ominous sign for their rivals.

Brief scores: Sunrisers Hyderabad 134/7 in 20 overs (Saha 44, Hazlewood 3/24, Bravo 2/17) lost to Chennai Super Kings 139/4 in 19.4 overs (Gaikwad 45, du Plessis 41, Holder 3/27) by six wickets

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