Sharjah: Chennai Super Kings (CSK) skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni heaped praise on his bowlers for how they pulled back things against a rampaging Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) during their six-wicket win in the UAE leg of the Indian Premier League (IPL) here Friday.
With skipper Virat Kohli (53) and Devdutt Padikkal (70) going great guns, it looked like Royal Challengers Bangalore will put up a big total, and pile on the pressure on Dho’i’s team. But CSK came back strongly in the last 10 overs as they restricted RCB to 156/6 in their allotted 20 overs.
CSK rode on useful knocks by Rituraj Gaikwad (38), Faf du Plessis (31), Ambati Rayudu (32), and Moeen Ali (23) to cruise to a six-wicket victory despite a minor hiccup when Gaikwad and du Plessis got out in successive overs with the score 71. Suresh Raina (17*) and Dhoni (11*) guided Chennai to 157/4 in 18.1 overs)
Dhoni said spinner Ravindra Jadeja bowled a crucial spell that helped them come back into the match. Though Jadeja did not get any wicket, he bowled his four overs for 31 runs at a time when both Kohli and Padikkal were going great guns and had taken the team 100 without losing any wicket. The other CSK bowlers — Dwayne Bravo (3/24), Shardul Thakur (2/29), and Deepak Chahar (1/35) — capitalised on the pressure he created and helped restrict RCB to a manageable total.
“They got off to a good start but after ninth over, the wicket slowed down. You still had to bowl tight, and Jadeja’s spell was important with Padikkal batting from one end. After that Bravo, Josh (Hazelwood), Shardul, Deepak were brilliant. It’s always on the back of your mind on which bowler can be effective over here. I had told Moeen (Ali) before drinks that he would be bowling soon, but then I decided Bravo should bowl. The more you delay Bravo, the more difficult it is since he will end up bowling four straight overs in these difficult conditions,” said Dhoni after the match.
Dhoni said he to plan his tactics keeping in mind the different ground conditions. He chose to field first as he wanted to avoid the dew in the second half of the match.
“We were worried about the dew, so whenever there are chances of dew we want to bat second. Over here, the three grounds are different. This is the slowest (so far) of all. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are different. So the players have been adapting,” said Dhoni.
Dhoni added, “Looking at the wicket, I felt left-right combo was important. We bat deep, we have a lot of left-handers, so in the back of the head, it’s there. And I feel all of them are good enough to play in any position. That’s why we went with the left-right combination, which may have pushed Raina and Rayudu down.”
Asked about Bravo’s performance, who bagged the man of the match award, Dhoni said that he has suggested to the West Indian bowler to mix up his deliveries as batsmen expect him to bowl slower balls.
“Bravo has turned up fit — that’s a very good thing. And he is executing well. I call him my brother. We always have fights over whether he should bowl the slower ball. But I told him that now everyone knows he bowls slower balls, so I told him to bowl six different balls in one over. Whenever he can, he takes up responsibilities.”
On his part, Bravo said the IPL is the toughest competition in the world and therefore he strives to be competitive. “I just strive to be competitive. IPL is the toughest competition in the world. Some days it works for me,’some days it doesn’t. But the pride and love I have for this game keeps me going,” said 37-year-old from Trinidad.
Bravo got the big wicket of Kohli to apply the brakes on the RCB scoring. That proved a crucial wicket as it broke the RCB rhythm and their scoring rate slowed down. “RCB are a big side, and Virat is a very good player, so important wicket. Wanted to just keep it simple. Variations, yorkers, slower balls…just stuck to my basics,” he said.
Asked what new can he do because he has been around for so long and everyone knows what he can bowl, Bravo said on Friday he bowled from around the wicket and wide yorkers to keep the batsmen guessing.
“Today I bowled around the wicket and wide yorkers, leg stump yorkers. That gets the batters thinking which way the ball will go. It’s all about keeping myself healthy,” he added.