After the first game CSK were well set with both bat and ball but then Ambati Rayudu had a injury which led to a downfall in batting for CSK as Faf du Plessis has been the lone wolf in that batting lineup. Their bowling spinners in particular took a beating in the next game against Royals so they lack a bit of confidence in both the department and the return of Ambani Rayudu and DJ Bravo might do that. SRH on the other hand has had a forgetful opening of the season as they lost two of their opening games where first was due to the clear lack of experience in the middle order. And now when Williamson is back they look a more settled team.
One of the biggest challenges for all the teams going into this season has been to not just identify their best playing XIs but also be able to quickly recaliberate their findings based on the venue they’re playing at. IPL in India still came with the luxury of seven home games, around which teams and squads are built, while away fixtures too had a sense of familiarity, considering the venues in play. UAE’s three venues, at least in this early stage of the season, are making teams work harder behind the scenes.
CSK’s woes have been compounded by the fact that they played the first game at two out of the three venues, and didn’t have any prior data to base their strategies on. Dew too has played hide-and-seek in all the three venues, messing with the decisions that captains take at the toss. What’s perhaps been most disheartening for Dhoni is his spinners’ failure to take control of matches in the middle-overs. Ravindra Jadeja’s ineffectiveness in particular [2/42, 0/40, 0/44] has stung CSK, leaving them vulnerable to a counter-attack in the post-PowerPlay period.
Sunrisers Hyderabad too, have been slow to get their motor running, sitting ahead of CSK on the table only on the basis of a superior Net Run Rate. While CSK’s quest for balance is not without reason, SRH have actually presented the flipside of being very rigid about it. Until their win against Delhi Capitals, Kane Williamson was kept on the bench so that SRH could field two foreign players at either ends of the line-up to complement a rather inexperienced middle-order. That ploy, however good on paper, was ripped to shreds by both RCB and KKR. Williamson walked into the side for their game against an unbeaten DC, and immediately showed the benefits of that move.
Six days since Fleming vouched for the need to get clarity and shrug off muddled thinking, he sounded rather bullish about the time spent away from action and conveyed relief of getting a consistent run of games at the same venue (four out of the next five CSK games at Dubai). What remains to be seen is if CSK can shake off the groggy start and put all their background efforts to good use as games come thick and fast in October.