After losing their last two matches, Chennai finally halted the bleeding with a win against Hyderabad on Tuesday at the Dubai International Stadium, this time defeating the one-time Indian T20 League winners by 20 runs.
After having won the toss and electing to bat, Chennai rode on the back of a late blitz by Ravindra Jadeja to put 167/6 on board after Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu had set the momentum. And as has been the trend so far this season, captain David Warner and Jonny Bairstow failed to give their team any sort of a headstart as Hyderabad's middle-order crumbled in the face of an excellent bowling effort from Chennai.
Having said that, a lot transpired throughout the game and here's what we learned from it:
Chennai’s tactical shift
There is no denying the fact that Sam Curran is one clean hitter of the ball, and Chennai decided to take the gamble as Kolkata did with Sunil Narine in the past. That plan almost worked out well for the three-time Indian T20 League winners before Sandeep Sharma bowled an absolute blinder to dismiss the England opener in the fifth over.
There are several facets to why Chennai decided to shuffle their opening pair. A fielding restriction in the opening overs works pretty well for Curran, who showed a glimpse of what he can offer, hitting Khaleel Ahmed for two fours and as many sixes in his over. It looks like Chennai’s initial plan was to let Faf du Plessis go slow but the South African, in fact, got out in the very first delivery he faced, registering his first duck in the Indian T20 League since 2014. As far as Watson is concerned, they needed his grunt in the second half of the play; something that he did alongside Ambati Rayudu, however, at a relatively slower pace.
Rayudu developing a trend
Ambati Rayudu was Watson’s partner in crime as the duo showed no mercy to Rashid Khan, ferociously hitting the Afghan leggie for 14 runs as he went for 30 in his four overs, a significant slump considering the standards he has set so far in the competition. Rayudu, however, failed to make the most of a friendly full-toss in the subsequent over as his shot was perfectly dealt by captain David Warner at long-off.
This was Rayudu’s third dismissal against a left-arm pacer in the six innings he has played thus far. Also, he has scored the fewest runs against them in the ongoing season, accumulating a mere 30 off 29 deliveries. Here’s the further bifurcation of his pattern:
|Left Arm Fast||30||29||3|
|Left Arm Spinner||32||21||0|
|Right Arm Fast||75||62||1|
|Right Arm Spinner||55||46||1|
Table: Ambati Rayudu's dismissal in Indian T20 League 2020
Hyderabad putting too much pressure on Williamson
David Warner and Jonny Bairstow have been completely contrary to how they were last season. While Bairstow has indeed delivered at times, Warner - by his standards - has been atrociously sub-par. The duo has, in fact, scored a mere 587 runs in eight innings and that has resulted in a certain Kane Williamson playing under a lot a pressure. Tonight, against Chennai, the openers combined for just 23 runs and Manish Pandey, too, departed after scoring four. Priyam Garg tried to emulate what he did against Chennai the last time these sides met early in the season but the growing pressure got the better of the 19-year-old, leaving Williamson the lone survivor in the team.
Chennai, in the first innings, were in a similar position, losing both of their openers in the Powerplay overs, but Rayudu and Watson combined for 81 runs to take the team out of their misery. Hyderabad need to understand that they neither have Rayudu, Watson or even Ravindra Jadeja in their ranks. The point being, following the dismissal of their top-three batsmen, Hyderabad's batting unit is technically sterile, and they just cannot rely on Williamson every time to win them the games, as the New Zealand captain himself needs a partner at the other end who can at least maintain the position. The 30-year-old was Hyderabad's best player without a shadow of a doubt and it's a pity for him to be so short of the support he needs.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @IndianT20League