Ravindra Jadeja and Mahendra Singh Dhoni have had a contrasting IPL season. While Jadeja dominates the Chennai Super Kings batting charts with a strike rate of 145.51, Dhoni at 95.04 pales in comparison. In the 14 league games, Jadeja scored 227 points and her captain 96 points. So why is Dhoni beating in front of Jadeja?
While the left arm spin-all-rounder is considered a finisher, it has been underused. In the 14 games, he faced 156 balls. Beating higher in order and facing more deliveries could have given even bigger returns. It would be interesting to see the thought process of the CSK team leadership, ahead of qualifying 1 against Delhi Capitals in Dubai on Sunday, after three losses on the spin.
Dhoni off color
Let’s go back to the CSK Group Championship game against DC in Dubai, played just five days ago. Beating first, CSK posted 136/5, with Dhoni scoring 18 of 27 balls. His fans would like to forget how DC fast pitcher Anrich Nortje rushed him into his shots. Once a great finisher, the 40-year-old struggled to keep up the pace throughout this IPL. Devoid of regular cricket, it looks woefully undercooked.
Jadeja arriving at # 7 and facing just two deliveries was a travesty. DC won the match by three wickets, with two balls remaining. CSK missed a round by failing to promote Jadeja in order. And with K Gowtham’s abandoned capture of Shimron Hetmyer, that was a reason for their defeat.
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It was a similar scene in CSK’s last game against the Punjab Kings. Dhoni came to bat again ahead of Jadeja, consuming 15 balls for 12 runs. The southpaw, as a result, didn’t have the luxury of punctuating his innings on a pitch that took some time for a new batsman to settle in.
There’s a school of thought that Dhoni needed batting time in the middle before the playoffs. That, at the expense of promoting Jadeja in the order, didn’t seem like a wise choice, however. The CSK’s hitters this quarter have been mostly carried by their openers Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis – with 533 and 546 points, respectively. In the first half of the tournament in India, Moeen Ali made his presence felt at No.3. But in the second phase in the UAE, especially towards the back of the group stage, the left-hander’s form regressed . Ali hasn’t reached a score of over 30 in his last four innings.
Jadeja Staff Enhancement
During the Test Series in England, Indian captain Virat Kohli was proactive enough to promote Jadeja to the batting order in front of an out of form Ajinkya Rahane. Jadeja’s batting record over the past two seasons in international cricket deserved promotion. Also with Suresh Raina, who no longer have the strength he used to be – 160 points in 12 games – CSK have apparently failed to take full advantage of Jadeja’s better form.
The 32-year-old has grown enough as a batsman to change the course of a game on his own at times and CSK’s game against the Kolkata Knight Riders in Abu Dhabi was a case in point. The three-time IPL champions appeared to have abandoned the initiative by losing two wickets – Raina and Dhoni – in an over, while the demanded rate rose to 13. With 26 required out of 12 balls, Jadeja flattened Prasidh Krishna with a exceeding 22.
The losers of Qualifying 1 would get a second cherry bite, but winning it and reaching the final is obviously the preferred route. All eyes will be on CSK’s use of Jadeja as a drummer.
The evolution of capitals
DC’s development as a team over the past two seasons under head coach Ricky Ponting has been one of the positive stories for the IPL. Whether it’s Shreyas Iyer or Rishabh Pant, a young captain working under the guidance of a top coach has worked spectacularly for the Delhi-based franchise. This is the opposite of how the CSK system works, but the Capitals have profited from politics.
They reached the final last year and finished first in the group stage with 20 points from 14 matches.
In terms of balance, DC is better placed than its opponents in Qualifying 1, having all the basics covered – top order, middle order, pace and rotation.
The good development of a team is marked by its consistency. For a young team, this is also the biggest challenge, as success usually does not follow a linear direction. DC has become wonderfully consistent – they’ve lost just four games this quarter – embracing stability. Even in the last irrelevant group game, they didn’t shoot much. And although DC lost to the Royal Challengers Bangalore, Prithvi Shaw’s gentle ball strike inspired confidence.
However, T20 matches ooze the unpredictability of football shots on goal and sometimes just two or three deliveries can make a difference.
DC touting Nortje’s pace, Kagiso Rabada’s profession, and Avesh Khan’s purple patch would like to rule out CSK’s early matches and target a questionable middle order. But Jadeja, if think tank CSK makes the decision, coming to bat at No.5 might be the antidote.