IPL 2020: Sam Curran's promotion was an MS Dhoni masterstroke
Chennai played within their strengths. They played without Suresh Raina and filled that hole quite beautifully
Saturday's game at Abu Dhabi was a special one, because we had nostalgia and a champion team playing—Mumbai Indians, a well-oiled machine and of course Chennai Super Kings—full of some old players in terms of age but certainly wise. And it was this wisdom that got them over the line against Mumbai Indians.
Chennai played within their strengths. They played without Suresh Raina and filled that hole quite beautifully.
Mumbai Indians obviously did not have enough runs on the board and not enough big partnerships.
Chennai's South African pacer Lungi Ngidi (3-38) picked up wickets at crucial moments and of course leg-spinner Piyush Chawla (1-21) bowled economically—like an old miser who delivers.
When CSK batted, we saw something special. Ambati Rayudu (48-ball 71) toyed around with the bowling. And of course, Faf du Plessis (58 not out) showed again what he is capable of. Yes, that big partnership made the difference, but for me, two decisions made by the old wine leader, Mahendra Singh Dhoni were crucial too. One, sending in Sam Curran (who scored 18 off just 6 balls) before himself and Kedar Jadhav at the end to take on left-arm spinner, Krunal Pandya.
And two, of getting leggie Chawla early on after Rohit Sharma (12 off 10 balls) and fellow opener Quinton de Kock (33 off 20 balls) attacked the CSK bowling. These moves were chess board-like and very smart.
Everybody is getting nostalgic about Dhoni coming out and finishing games. Maybe, he is smarter than you and I and believes that he will take a while to get settled in this IPL.
He's been out of cricket for a while, he is retired mentally, so maybe he is just getting to the flow so he won't expose himself early on. With the few practice sessions, a few games under his belt, maybe we will see a glimpse of the Dhoni of old.
All in all, the IPL-13 opener was an exciting game and of course, a curtain raiser to a great feast in the desert.
Shishir Hattangadi is a former Mumbai Ranji Trophy captain, now CEO of Baroda Cricket Association
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