Image credit: AFP
It was clear on Friday, April 26, night that Chennai Super Kings have a Jekyll and Hyde syndrome. They lost their fourth match of the season, and also their first at home in IPL 2019, against Mumbai Indians. By and large, Chennai have been dominant this year, but they have a tendency to throw up these shockers.
Rohit Sharma’s 67 powered Mumbai to 155-4 on a tricky surface in Chepauk. Chennai fell short of that by a remarkable 46 runs as they were bundled out for 109 in 17.4 overs. It meant Mumbai have now extended a winning-streak over Chennai – they have won six of their last seven games – and that has prompted some quarters to compellingly label them Chennai’s bogey team.
Mumbai Indians. You get that feeling about them this year. All the traditional signs have been there: a poor start, a resurgence, and now the peak as we approach the business end of the tournament. It’s been a typical Mumbai season, and their victory over Chennai Super Kings, the runaway leaders, is a statement.
Chennai had, up until this match, a spotless record at home; the opposition struggled with the sluggishness of the Chepauk pitch, and Chennai lorded over them. Mumbai, though, turned the tables on Friday.
They adapted to the conditions better than Chennai, their batsmen ensuring wickets were intact in the Powerplay, before launching at the death. Chennai’s batsmen then collapsed – not for the first time this season – in the Powerplay, and that was that. “Today [the conditions were] tricky for all and they dealt with it a lot better than us,” Stephen Fleming, the Chennai coach, later acknowledged.
Mumbai have the look of champions.
Over-reliance on Dhoni. Of Chennai’s four losses, two have come in each of the games captain Dhoni missed out. He missed the clash last night with illness, and immediately, it seemed Mumbai had the psychological advantage.
Chennai’s batsmen haven’t nearly looked as daunting as they did last year, but they still surged to the top of the table thanks to the performances of their middle order. Dhoni, in particular, has been in riveting form.
However, without him, the team seem to lack direction. There is no one coordinating things from behind the stumps, no one who has the same ability to analyse opposition, improvise fields and guide bowlers. In their chase, there was no one who knew how to pace the innings to reach that target.
Chennai will hope Dhoni’s fever is short-lived, and he is back on his feet soon; going into the knockouts, they will need him. Badly.
What they said
— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) April 26, 2019
“It was a massive boost that MSD wasn’t around. His presence does a lot for their team”
– Rohit Sharma suggesting Mumbai had the game in the bag even before a ball was bowled.
What they didn’t say
“I can also be thala”
– Suresh Raina, the stand-in captain, hasn’t quite been able to fill into the real thala’s boots.
A must-win match for Rajasthan. They are without their English contingent now, and will have to brace themselves as Sunrisers Hyderabad, who are eyeing a play-off spot, come calling.