Chennai Super Kings' seam attack has been depleted further, with their designated death bowler Dwayne Bravo sidelined from the IPL for two weeks with a hamstring strain. Bravo sustained the injury during Super Kings' first loss of the season, against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium on April 3.
Super Kings had already lost Lungi Ngidi (injury) and David Willey (personal reasons) in the past couple of weeks. In the IPL, replacements can only be sought for players who are injured, which means Super Kings could not get anyone to fill in for Willey.
Bravo had conceded 29 runs in the last over of Mumbai's innings but against Rajasthan Royals last week, he nailed his variations and defended 11 off the last over to secure a tense win. Bravo also contributed with the bat in that game, providing Super Kings' innings some late impetus with 27 off 16 balls.
Michael Hussey, the Super Kings batting coach, conceded that Bravo's injury will shake up the balance of the team. Hussey, though, backed New Zealand allrounder Scott Kuggeleijn, who was signed as Ngidi's replacement, to come good.
Kuggeleijn can hit the deck hard and is also a handy batsman lower down the order. More recently in the Super Smash, New Zealand's domestic T20 competition, Kuggeleijn claimed 13 wickets in nine matches at an economy rate of 8.14 in Northern Districts' run to the final. He is set to make his IPL bow against Kings XI Punjab on Saturday.
"Obviously, he (Bravo) offers so much balance to the team and he's a quality player, so it's going to cause a little bit of rejigging of the team," Hussey said. "But, I'm sure we will still be able to put together a very strong team and yes it's a big loss for us, but we have had these challenges in the past and we've been able to overcome them. We're hoping we can do that again.
"Yes, definitely [Scott Kuggeleijn can fill the void]. I'm sure MS [Dhoni] and [Stephen] Fleming will look at Scott and assess his death-bowling skills."
Hussey also said that Super Kings have death-bowling options in Shardul Thakur and Mohit Sharma, but they haven't been effective. They have economy rates in excess of 12 each at the death since last IPL. Bravo himself has leaked 11.90 runs an over at the death in the same period. Hussey also reckoned the spinners could do the job at the death on the helpful tracks at home.
"We've got Shardul who has done a little bit of death bowling and Mohit can also bowl at the death," he said. "It's about assessing the conditions as well and see which bowlers are suitable to bowling in the latter overs and if it's a real turning pitch, maybe one of the spinners can bowl at the end. There will be a lot of thinking about the best combination to get. It's a key area of the game and we didn't quite get it right against Mumbai and they scored a lot of runs in the last two or three overs. It's an area we need to focus on and try to execute - it's an important facet of the game."