Shaky middle order and selection mistakes hurting Chennai
Why leave out Murali?
"It's not the best eleven but the best possible eleven," said MS Dhoni at the toss. He might have to change that thought and he probably did by the indication of things at the post-match ceremony. "We were lacking a spinner or a bowler who could take the pace off." It was a pitch where Muttiah Muralitharan would have, in theory, bowled well. R Ashwin, who conceded just 13 runs and picked up two wickets, including that of Adam Gilchrist, and Shadab Jakati impressed but Murali was sorely missed. But that's one of the selection challenges in the IPL. With just four foreign players available, it's a really interesting selection headache as to who to pick and who to leave.
If the other Indian seamers in the squad were bowling well, Dhoni could have rested Thilan Thushara, but as it turned it out he could only use the erratic Sudeep Tyagi for just one over. Who else has he got? L Balaji has leaked runs in the past games, Manpreet Gony has been mediocre and Joginder Sharma doesn't inspire confidence as well.
Is Michael Hussey the answer for Chennai's middle-order blues? They were 64 for 1 in 7.4 overs but they reached only 138 in the end. And Hussey is not helping the cause much, especially when you club him with S Badrinath. Runs don't come at the pace required and the pressure increases on the other batsmen like Suresh Raina. Since neither Dhoni nor Matthew Hayden are batting with any sense of fluency, it's getting more difficult to hide the inefficient middle order. Will they replace Hussey with Albie Morkel and get in Murali for Thushara? Hayden's lack of form is really hurting Chennai, but you sense his spot won't be tinkered with.
Why not Badani?
Will Hemang Badani be a better choice than Badrinath? In theory, he can hit the ball harder and longer than Badrinath and can even play the role of part-time spinner. Has he not impressed enough in the nets to deserve a chance? Perhaps it's time to give Badani a go.
Why did you run, Vijay?
M Vijay had just hit an imperious six and witnessed Raina hit four boundaries in quick succession. Everything looked hunky dory at that point: Chennai were sitting pretty at 64 for 1 in 7.4 overs when Vijay had a brain explosion. Raina hit it wide of deep midwicket and Vijay called for a second run and as it turned out, didn't even get half-way when the bails were removed. An innings that promised much terminated prematurely and more importantly, it exposed the middle and lower order.
Why the crawl post Vijay?
Chennai added only 73 runs in 12.2 overs after Vijay's exit. Deccan Chargers, who have been struggling in the end overs, gave away only 28 runs in the last five overs. Dhoni got out after plodding around for 13 deliveries, Hussey was struggling to get it off the turf, Badrinath was out cheaply as well and there were no batsmen or allrounders left. And you can sense that the entire pressure was on Raina who couldn't handle it today. Chennai tried Thissara Perera, Morkel, Justin Kemp (out injured now), and George Bailey but no one apart from Albie has had any success. There is no one in the lower order who can steal a few runs under pressure.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo