IPL 2019 44th Match, Super Kings bowl, Dhoni and Jadeja miss out

Chennai Super Kings: 1 M Vijay, 2 Shane Watson, 3 Suresh Raina (capt), 4 Kedar Jadhav, 5 Ambati Rayudu (wk), 6 Dhruv Shorey, 7 Mitchell Santner, 8 Dwayne Bravo, 9 Deepak Chahar, 10 Harbhajan Singh, 11 Imran Tahir.
Mumbai Indians: 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 Evin Lewis, 4 Kieron Pollard, 5 Hardik Pandya, 6 Krunal Pandya, 7 Suryakumar Yadav, 8 Anukul Roy, 9 Rahul Chahar, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Lasith Malinga.

Toss Chennai Super Kings chose to bowl v Mumbai Indians.

Filling in for MS Dhoni, who missed his second match of the season – this time due to fever – Suresh Raina won the toss and opted to bowl, pointing out that dew could be a problem in the second half of the game. Overall, Super Kings made three changes to the team that beat Sunrisers Hyderabad, with Dhoni, Faf du Plessis and Ravindra Jadeja (also unwell) making way for Dhruv Shorey, Mitchell Santner and M Vijay. Mumbai Indians also made a couple of changes with Evin Lewis and Anukul Roy – on IPL debut – coming in for Ben Cutting and Mayank Markande.

Super Kings, who top the table with 16 points, will be assured a playoff berth if they extend their winning streak at Chepauk. A win for Mumbai, on the other hand, will help them displace Delhi Capitals in the second position on the table, courtesy a superior net run-rate. Super Kings have lost just one of their last 18 matches at Chepauk, and that defeat incidentally came against Mumbai in 2015. The visitors also had the better of the Super Kings when the teams met in Mumbai earlier in the season, winning that contest by 37 runs on the back of Hardik Pandya’s all-round brilliance.

Mumbai Indians 155 for 4 (Rohit 67, Santner 2-13) beat Chennai Super Kings 109 all out (Vijay 38, Malinga 4-37, Krunal 2-7, Bumrah 2-10) by 46 runs

A forty-over contest was virtually decided in the two Powerplays as Mumbai Indians completed the double against Chennai Super Kings, also inflicting upon the hosts their first defeat chasing at Chepauk since 2013. The defining innings of the match came upfront from Rohit Sharma, who struck 67, his first fifty of the season. Mumbai put up 51 in six overs, which was not very rapid, but in comparison, Super Kings were 40 for 3. Krunal Pandya had 1 for 3 in two overs, and with an indisposed MS Dhoni absent on a wearing pitch, Super Kings knew only a miracle could take them over the line, and that didn’t materialise. Dhoni was also missed in the field. Rohit and Evin Lewis had added 75 runs for the second wicket, but during the course of the partnership, stand-in wicketkeeper Ambati Rayudu missed hearing an outside edge from Lewis when the left-hander was on 12. Rayudu had caught the ball cleanly off a Harbhajan off-spinner, but neither the bowler nor the keeper realised there had been a feather on it, and Lewis batted on.

Mumbai suffered a brief stutter when Mitchell Santner returned for a second spell and the pitch revealed its true colors. First, he had Lewis hole out at deep midwicket, thereby quashing the notion that the ball spinning back into the left-hander isn’t a threat. He followed that up with Rohit’s scalp, whom he had caught at long-on in his final over to finish with figures of 2 for 13, and it looked like Mumbai were going be restricted to below 150. However, Hardik Pandya took apart Dwayne Bravo in his final over, much like he had at the Wankhede when these two teams played their first match of IPL 2019, as Mumbai finished with 155 for 4. It was their third-lowest score having lost four or fewer wickets, but one that seemed above par on the surface. That was confirmed soon after, as five of the top six Super Kings batsmen failed to reach double figures, struggling to come to terms with a tired surface. Ironically, that difficulty was best demonstrated by top scorer M Vijay’s – playing his second match since last season – charmed life in the middle. In the third over from Lasith Malinga, Vijay chipped three balls over the cover field and was early into the shot each time. He was then dropped at point by debutant Anukul Roy, who ran back, circled around it, and in the end struggled to get a finger on it. Eventually, despite a brief rearguard from Bravo and Santner, Super Kings fell well short of the target.

Arguably, the most decisive moment of the match came even before a ball was bowled. Stand-in captain Suresh Raina opted to bowl, pointing out that there could be dew later. However, he seemed to have badly misread a pitch that deteriorated rapidly after the first ten overs of Mumbai’s innings, which meant that the visitors had the best of the conditions. To their credit, Mumbai used that advantage optimally. They put up 51 in the Powerplay, as Super Kings’ best bowler during that phase, Deepak Chahar, was taken for 36 in three overs – the most he has conceded in that period this season. After ten overs, Mumbai were 84 for 1. In the remaining 27.3 overs that the match lasted, only 180 runs were scored while 13 wickets fell.

On a normal day, on a normal pitch, on another ground, combined figures of 1 for 60 from eight overs would be considered a pretty reasonable return for two spinners. However, this was a pitch that came gift wrapped for the experienced Harbhajan Singh and Imran Tahir. Part of their relative ineffectiveness was down to Mumbai’s strategic brilliance. Tahir had been introduced immediately after the Powerplay to exploit Rohit Sharma’s well-documented weakness against leg spin, and Harbhajan bowled out without a break as he was turning the ball away from Lewis. But Lewis took the majority of the strike when the legspinner operated, taking Tahir for 17 in seven balls, with the help of a six and a four. At the other end, Rohit dented Harbhajan’s final figures, as he stepped out to deposit him over deep midwicket and then over his head. This also ensured that Mumbai’s momentum never broke, even as the field spread.

The first signs of the pitch starting to play tricks came on Santner’s first ball in the 11th over, that spun sharply past Rohit Sharma’s outside edge. In his next over, Lewis stepped out to hoick over the leg side, but Santner shortened his length, and as a result, the ball held in the surface, leading to the miscue which was caught comfortably at deep midwicket. In his next 17 deliveries, Santner induced a leading edge, beat the bat on numerous occasions, and took the crucial wicket of Rohit Sharma, who had just started to cut loose. At that stage, Super Kings were on their way to restricting Mumbai to a much lower total.

It seems as though the key to stopping Watson from having an impact on a match is offering a few freebies first up, creating a false sense of security, and then inducing an error. In the last match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, in an eerie throw-back to last year’s final, Watson looked all at sea in the first over against Bhuvneshwar Kumar but finished with a match-winning 96. Here, he was first offered width outside off – crunched through the covers. One followed on the pads – clipped past short fine-leg for four. Then a juicy half volley on the pads again, which Watson, brimming with confidence by now, clipped straight to short fine-leg, who took a sharp chance. Crestfallen, he trudged off the field, taking with him his side’s chances of chasing the target.