Chennai Super Kings v Mumbai Indians, IPL final, Kolkata May 26, 2013

Super Kings squander their batting depth

To their detriment, Chennai Super Kings chose the IPL final to demonstrate that wickets have value, even in T20

Chennai Super Kings' go-slow approach often works, and is often criticised as well for being under-utilisation of a batting order that goes on and on. What is the need for Michael Hussey and Co to preserve wickets and build when you have men like Albie Morkel and Chris Morris coming in as late as Nos 8 and 9? It is Twenty20, goes the argument. There are as many as ten wickets to use, or lose, over just 20 overs. Invitation to start swinging from ball one, and never let up. There is always one hitter more to come in if you fail. No way is there enough time for such a powerful line-up to run out of batsmen, right? Wrong.

Super Kings' collective suicide in the IPL 2013 final showed that go-slow and explode is far more preferable to unrestrained bang-bang. More importantly, it also showed that even in T20, no matter how deep a side bats or how many six-hitters it has, its batsmen are far better off putting at least some price on their wickets. Or else, they risk reducing one of the greatest limited-overs batsmen ever to farming the strike with plenty of overs left and hitting defiant, but meaningless, late sixes.

MS Dhoni is often blamed for batting too low. For a man whose reputation forces even Lasith Malinga to bowl a wide outside off with an asking-rate over 27, No. 7 was definitely not the position to bat in a tournament final chase. And forget the situation and the occasion, there is no way Dhoni can bat lower than Ravindra Jadeja. But tonight, would it have mattered if Dhoni had come in at No 6 or No 5? Defensive as it was to hold himself for so late, can Dhoni be blamed for the sheer senselessness of what was happening at the other end? Dhoni couldn't have batted at both ends.

The Mumbai Indians bowlers deserved praise for making 148 look like 198, but apart from the inswinging Malinga yorker that took care of Hussey, they didn't really have to take the other wickets, rather than receiving them on a platter.

Suresh Raina has hopes of adding to his 17 Tests. His response to the first ball he faced suggests they are likely to remain just hopes for some time. Now the world and the adjoining galaxy know that Raina expects the bouncer when he comes in. It is one thing when the bowler preys on your expectations, places a short leg or deep square leg and you get out to the bluff full delivery. But it is seriously poor for someone who has been playing international cricket for eight years to meekly fend a bouncer first ball into the hands of short leg.

S Badrinath, Dwayne Bravo, Jadeja, M Vijay. All of them threw it away. Badrinath was sent in to enforce go-slow again but chased a wide delivery. Bravo's was a strange innings. He looked to be trying to desperately counter-attack every ball and still went at less than a run a ball before falling to his own desperation. Jadeja's heave second ball at 36 for 4 mocked Dhoni's decision to send the allrounder above himself. Vijay tried patience for some time, but was caught between continuing with it and playing the cool saviour. Forget 120 deliveries, it took a little over one-third of that, 45 balls, for Super Kings to squander their depth, the depth that was supposedly inexhaustible over a mere 20 overs.

Contrast this with the way Kieron Pollard and Ambati Rayudu batted. Mumbai Indians were 52 for 4 and down to their last proper batting pair with a long tail to follow. Pollard did begin with a boundary, but it was a risk-free push down and along the ground. He defended successive carrom balls from R Ashwin. The third one was a carrom ball again, but it was fuller and slightly angled in. Pollard launched it over long-on.

He got little strike at the death and that made him livid but he confined himself to shouting and swearing and didn't let his game be affected. After being left agonising at the other end for 15 of the previous 22 deliveries, he cracked the final two balls of the innings for sixes.

It is Mumbai Indians who are usually said to get muddled with too many resources to choose from but probably the absence of any more depth in the batting gave Pollard and Rayudu no choice but to play sensibly. To their credit, they did. Probably the availability of depth in the batting made Super Kings abandon their successful policy of preserving wickets for once. To their detriment, they chose the final to showcase that wickets have value, even in T20.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mani on May 28, 2013, 20:23 GMT

    A win in the qualifier not withstanding, MI has CSK's number. Have to live with till nxt year. Hope CSK can rebound from two losses in 2 finals.

  • Dummy4 on May 28, 2013, 14:14 GMT

    In IPL 2013 MI played 4 matches against CSK. They won 3. One on Home Ground. One on CSK's Home Ground. One on Neutral Venue. CSK won on a Neutral Venue. So MI clearly outplayed CSK. MSD is still India's Best Player. He should have come in at No. 5. MI bowled superbly. Jadeja was Pathetic! CSK fans are giving Stupid excuses for their teams loss to MI. Really Pathetic!

  • veetal on May 27, 2013, 21:13 GMT

    Really? Did Dhoni came in too late? I don't think so. He came in the 7th over at 35, not in the 15th with the score at 70. The right thing was done by sending the other guys and let them try to build a foundation. Let's say Dhoni came in at 3-3 and was dismissed before the team had 40, what would've happen then? That would've lessen CSK's chances of making 149. Not many guy in CSK can bring 60 from 30, Dhoni is one of them but most of the players in CSK are capable of building a partnership. The other guys like Bravo, Jadeja and Badrinath gave their wicket away.... Spare a thought for Badrinath though, he hardly got any chance to bat this season and in the final he was called up to anchor.

  • sam on May 27, 2013, 15:58 GMT

    Not a single article has been written for Malinga, who started decently in this year's IPL but then had a lot of awful matches. But cometh the final, he produced the over of the tournament in the first over of CSK innings which dented CSK confidence very heavily.

  • Chetan on May 27, 2013, 15:22 GMT

    Dhoni is a great captain as a motivator and leader of men but he is a very poor strategist!

  • Dummy4 on May 27, 2013, 15:11 GMT

    I always believed that the IPL is partially fixed (so as to make it interesting) if not entirely, the final again proved my point. Consider a tournament where just one team wins all the matches that too with huge margin and other teams' matches are either one sided or low scoring, who is gonna go watch the match? Then how the franchise and organizers will get the profit? Its all business but also big fun nevertheless.

  • Dummy4 on May 27, 2013, 15:00 GMT

    It was unfortunate to have CSK on the losing side, though they have creditably throught the season. But they will be told as consistent only when they have won. The total was really achievable. I don't why the batting order was changed. It is a mystery why Dhoni batted so late ? Whenever Dhoni has tinkered with his position, he ended on the losing side. It is really amusing and astonishing not to have reached the meagre score when every body tells they can bat very deep till 11. Morris has never batted like Morkel till the last match though he had ample chances. Albie has literally got chance only in this match in 16 matches. A normally hard hitter was quitened by bowlers. Still it is not clear how they have failed. Last year even after scoring 190 and above, last over hits got KKR to crossover the line. This year, though the score to reach is low, CSK could not reach. Looks like something wrong somewhere.

  • Dummy4 on May 27, 2013, 14:47 GMT

    This game should have been a cakewalk for CSK. Turned out to be the opposite. Just goes to show the glorious uncertainty of cricket. MI came to play; they were determined to fight for every inch; never say die and die fighting. Their batting slipped yet fought hard to recover. It wasn't a totally safe recovery; but a respectable one. Then comes CSI. They depend too much on King Dhoni and King Dhoni depends only on his own willow. He will hit the 6s and the 4s at will and save his team every time. He doesn't need anyone else. But your majesty, this is a team sport. You can't save your overpaid, over-rated chamchas every time. The MI were at their fighting best and bested what was (on paper) the best outfit. Good show MI. I would have been happier if the Rajasthan Royals had won it all. That would have been the real fairy tale and a great one too.

  • Mohammed on May 27, 2013, 14:01 GMT

    can anybody explain what hussey said at post presentaion : Hussey: Good fun but couldn't do the business on the final-day.