Just five days ago (on October 4), Chennai Super Kings turned the overwhelming bat-first-and-win narrative in Dubai on its head. Their uplifting victory in chase – over Kings XI Punjab – came a game later than head coach Stephen Fleming would’ve liked after he expressed the need to play consistently at a single venue and get used to the conditions.
His team lost one and won one in Dubai since that comment, and then lost again in Abu Dhabi (to KKR) to get pushed back to the second half of the points table.
By their own admission, it’s taken CSK time to get their ‘muddled thinking’ right as far as combinations are concerned. They’re yet to win a game purely on the basis of their biggest strength – a spin strangle – but that’s down to the absence of much grip on the surfaces for the spinners to cause havoc. There could yet be room for that in the backend of the league stage, but for now, the challenge will be to address the elephant in the room – the oft-missing intent in run-chases.
In Saturday’s game – CSK’s seventh of the season – Fleming will hope they can shake off the KKR defeat and seek continuity from their KXIP performance to validate his familiarity theory.
That, though, won’t come without a fight, for RCB themselves have played four of their five matches in Dubai, with mixed results (two wins and two defeats). RCB have had a better start to the season than CSK (6 points in 5 games compared to CSK’s 4 points in 6 games) but they too arrive at the back of a deflating defeat, to DC, which poked holes at what they would’ve considered water-tight strategising – devised in the win over Rajasthan Royals.
Virat Kohli & Co. have had a chance to relax and recover with a four-day break, but now enter into an eight-day period where they play four matches. CSK, already in the midst of a busy phase, have three fixtures in the next seven days. Now will perhaps be a good time for both the teams to clear cache and start afresh in their attempt to gallop towards a top-four spot.