By Karthik Parimal
The Chennai Super Kings (CSK) found themselves in a predicament due to a batting collapse as their modest total was made mincemeat of by the Delhi Daredevils (DD) on Wednesday. Surprisingly, this is the second time in three games in this edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) that CSK has encountered issues with its batting. In its very first game against the Mumbai Indians (MI), CSK’s famed batting line-up folded for a paltry score of just 112, and that performance was replicated yet again against DD when they put up a meagre 110 for eight on the board.
Such kind of batting performances, despite having quite a few adept batsmen in the side, is appalling. This is not the first time that CSK has faltered with the bat. It has registered below-par scores during the previous seasons of the IPL as well. CSK also happens to be a side that relies heavily on its openers. The fact that Murali Vijay hasn’t performed to his potential has not augured well for them. During the last four seasons, Vijay’s tremendous start took CSK off to flyers more often than not. Unfortunately, he has been consuming a lot of deliveries this time around in his quest to find his footing.
This has put immense pressure on the middle-order batsmen, who find it necessary to score from the moment they arrive at the crease in order to up the ante. Suresh Raina is more than capable of quickening the scoring rate and he has proved this fact time and again in the abridged version of the game. However, whether Subramaniam Badrinath and Ravindra Jadeja need to bat above skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is an issue that needs to be debated. No doubt, Badrinath is a seasoned campaigner and can tune himself to the frequency of the game nonchalantly, but the problem arises when he gets out against the run of play. The batsmen following him usually come with just five or six overs to spare and need time to settle down. This has been affecting the scoring rate during the precious last few overs of the innings.
Dhoni could be the right man to bat at No 4 for the Chennai Super Kings. In the last few years, Dhoni has tended to be cautious in the initial stages of his innings. Unlike earlier times, he doesn’t attack the bowlers right from the word go. He needs a couple of over to get his eye in, and once settled, he makes up quite effortlessly for the dot deliveries. Batting up the order could prove to be a beneficial move for someone with such an approach. His batting style easily allows him to consolidate during the middle stages of the game and attack towards the end when he is usually settled.
CSK are fortunate to have players of the calibre of Dwayne Bravo and Albie Morkel, who can clear the fence with ease, and on a consistent basis. Imagine them walking out to join a set Dhoni in the middle during the final stages of CSK’s innings. It then gives CSK every chance of posting a big total. By batting up the order, Dhoni will be creating a perfect launch pad for Chennai to accelerate towards the end. Agreed, on certain occasions, the current batting order too is capable of scoring at a quick rate – like was demonstrated in the game against the Deccan Chargers – but Dhoni’s elevation to the No 4 slot will give CSK a chance to post such totals on a fairly regular basis rather than sporadically.
Ravindra Jadeja, too, is a fine player towards the death overs, but comparatively, Dhoni certainly has a better chance of accelerating when needed. Hence it is important that the latter gets the feel of the wicket and the conditions before the last few overs of the innings. Also, Jadeja is predominantly a good player of spin, whereas Dhoni has the ability to score quickly of both the fast bowlers and the spinners. Considering the fact that CSK have ample batsmen, they must expect Jadeja to contribute more with the ball than with the bat. His bowling figures - 4-0-16-5 - against the Deccan Chargers (DC) bears testimony of his bowling abilities.
With the kind of players it has, CSK has the ability to make it three on the trot. But they cannot afford such fluctuations in performance. They have a fairly decent bowling attack, but their batting needs to come good on a consistent basis. If Dhoni bats at No 4, it will inject stability in CSK’s batting line-up. The next game against the Royal Challengers of Bangalore will test CSK’s batting unit as they face a formidable bowling attack comprising of Zaheer Khan, Daniel Vettori and Muttiah Muralitharan. Will the Chennai Super Kings find some consistency?
(If cricket is a religion and has many devotees, Karthik Parimal would be a primary worshipper. This 23 year old graduate student, pursuing his Masters in Engineering, could be an appropriate example of how the layers of what inspires, motivates and keeps one happy run deeply in our daily lives. He, unlike others, is not too disappointed about not making it big by playing for the country, but believes that he plays the sport every day with his heart by watching and writing on it)