Chennai: The long animated conversation between the two superstars of Indian cricket that followed Sunday night’s cliffhanger gave enough indication as to how much Virat Kohli enjoyed watching M.S. Dhoni hit the purple patch, that too ahead of the all-important World Cup.
Coming off a quick break, Dhoni showed no signs of rustiness and his unbeaten 84 off 48 balls — his highest in IPL — was a calculated assault on Kohli’s Royal Challengers. As Dhoni clobbered Umesh Yadav for 24 runs off the last over, all Kohli could do was smile and admire his Team India predecessor. But it’s pity the Super Kings skipper couldn’t carry his Yellow Brigade across the line.
Dhoni’s recent form — 314 runs in seven innings and highest by a CSK player this season — augurs well for Team India. Super Kings, the reigning champions, are over-reliant on Dhoni this season with their fabled top-order being inconsistent. The line-up that bats deep is CSK’s biggest strength, on paper, but some of the batsmen have been reckless. Coach Stephen Fleming has admitted that it was a result of the batsmen’s desperation to find form.
Shane Watson (147) and Ambati Rayudu (192), who played a key role in CSK triumph last year, are a pale shadow of themselves. T20 stalwart Suresh Raina was bamboozled by a peach of a delivery from Dale Steyn on Sunday. The team management who are known for backing their core group hasn’t made any big changes to the playing XI this season. Maybe, it’s time for them to do so after having suffered their second successive defeat.
Returning to their den for the ‘MRC Nagar Derby’ against Sunrisers Hyderabad — the headquarters of both franchises are just across the road in this locality — CSK would seek comfort at Chepauk where they haven’t lost a game this season. The slow nature of the Chennai track has come under heavy criticism and if curators roll out another turner it could possibly play into the hands of Sunrisers who boast quality spinners in Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Shabhaz Nadeem. Imran Tahir (16) and Deepak Chahar (13) have been consistently taking wickets for CSK. In contrast to CSK’s top-order woes, Sunrisers are riding on the success of their marauding openers, David Warner and Jonny Bairstow.
The Aussie-English duo have shared four century stands this season....