The Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals are in a bit of crisis at this point in the tournament. Both sides have lost six of their nine games and have lost their respective last matches which were close contests. But there were positives in their respective losses too – a few of their batsmen showed good hitting form, albeit a bit too late into the tournament. Or maybe not.
The chopping and changing of the line-up has not been fruitful, but the Royals’ batting looked in much better shape in the match against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, with a few drastic but much-needed changes in place. While Robin Uthappa’s promotion to the top of the order worked well, captain Steven Smith at his usual No. 4 position hit form with a half-century and gave them the required impetus from the middle order. Sanju Samson, however, has continued to struggle with the bat after a dream start to the tournament. In the end, an incredible AB de Villiers assault and the gamble of giving Jaydev Unadkat the penultimate over instead of Jofra Archer cost them two points.
For the Super Kings, however, it was fielding slip-ups that proved costly in the game against the Delhi Capitals. Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis, although a bit slow to get off the blocks with the bat, laid out the foundation. Their middle order, which had lacked firepower up to that point, stepped up and plundered 57 runs off the last four overs against arguably the best death bowling attack in the tournament. Jadeja, coming in after MS Dhoni’s yet another low score, struck a 13-ball 33 not out as Ambati Rayudu helped from the other end with an unbeaten 25-ball 45.
While both sides’ campaigns are nearing a point of no return, a win for either of these teams will give their playoffs pursuit a big push.
In the news
Dwayne Bravo’s groin injury kept him off the field during the Capitals’ chase, which eventually prevented him from bowling the crucial final over of the match. Coach Stephen Fleming said Bravo would miss “a few days or a couple of weeks”. The Super Kings could look to bring back Josh Hazlewood or go for an extra spinner in Imran Tahir.
A Samson special ensured a 16-run win for the Royals in their opening match of the season in Sharjah. Samson slammed a 32-ball 74 and took Royals to 216. In response, the Super Kings fell short by 16 runs even as du Plessis scored a 37-ball 72.
Chennai Super Kings: 1 Faf du Plessis, 2 Sam Curran, 3 Shane Watson, 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 MS Dhoni (capt, wk), 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Deepak Chahar, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 Shardul Thakur, 10 Karn Sharma, 11 Josh Hazlewood/ Imran Tahir
Rajasthan Royals: 1 Jos Buttler (wk), 2 Robin Uthappa, 3 Sanju Samson, 4 Steven Smith (capt), 5 Ben Stokes 6 Riyan Parag, 7 Rahul Tewatia, 8 Jofra Archer, 9 Shreyas Gopal/Mayank Markande, 10 Jaydev Unadkat, 11 Kartik Tyagi
The Super Kings could use Sam Curran as a floater. Curran opened the innings in the last two games with contrasting returns: against the Sunrisers, he made a 21-ball 31 but was dismissed for a duck against the Capitals. He could be used in the middle overs to counter the Royals’ spinners as he averages over 50 and strikes at 241 against spin this season.
Are the Royals missing a trick by pushing Jos Buttler down the order? Buttler has been at his best while opening the innings and is the only opener, apart from Chris Gayle, to average over 40 and strike at 150-plus in the IPL. Meanwhile, Stokes has not been particularly successful in his new role at the top. Will the Royals swap their positions?
Will the Royals bring in Mayank Markande against the Super Kings? The Super Kings haven’t exactly been at their best against spin this year, with a scoring rate of only 7.7. This might prompt the Royals to bring in Markande and bowl him along with Shreyas Gopal and Rahul Tewatia, also considering the fact that their legspinners picked up four wickets during the reverse fixture earlier in the tournament.
Stats that matter
The Super Kings and the Royals were among the top spin units in 2019 but their spinners have been misfiring this season. While the Super Kings spinners have been the most expensive this season, with an economy of 9.1, the Royals’ have taken the least wickets (12).
Jofra Archer has been the key for the Royals this season, both in the powerplay and at the death. Among fast bowlers who have bowled at least 20 overs this season, Archer has the best economy (7).
Dhoni is set to be the first to 200 matches in the IPL.
The Royals have lost the most wickets in the powerplay compared to other teams this season. They’ve lost 27 wickets in nine matches and on average, have lost a wicket almost every 16th ball.
Rayudu is five short of 5000 T20 runs.
Recent Match Report – South Australia vs Tasmania 3rd Match 2020
Tasmania 2 for 14 trail South Australia 195 (Nielsen 64, Webster 3-26) by 181 runs
Tasmania made a rare departure from their usual formula by including a specialist spin bowler for the only the third match since the 2016-17 season, but it was their trusty seamers’ collective that rolled South Australia for 195 on the opening day at Karen Rolton Oval.
The Redbacks’ captain Travis Head won the toss and chose to bat first after the hosts had dropped Tom Cooper for Callum Ferguson, only to see the ball move around helpfully for the Tigers both through the air and off a fresh pitch and slip to 4 for 61 by lunch.
Only a partial recovery could be managed thereafter, through a doughty 64 from the wicketkeeper Harry Nielsen with support from Chadd Sayers. Peter Siddle and Nathan Ellis shared the plaudits for their spells to the top order, before Jackson Bird and the part-timer Beau Webster – making good use of his height in switching to medium pace from his offspin – cleaned up the rest.
On a fine day in Adelaide, South Australia would have hoped to bat through the day, but were still inside the opening half hour when Jake Weatherald edged a beautifully pitched delivery from Siddle into the slips cordon. Brad Davis was victim to a similarly precise delivery from Ellis, moving away just enough to claim an edge that was wonderfully taken by Australia’s Test captain Tim Paine, diving in front of first slip.
Disastrously, Head was to become the second South Australia batsman to be run out in a first innings in as many games, after Davis against Western Australia. Ferguson called Head through for a quick single to cover, giving Alex Doolan the chance to throw the stumps down and trigger wild celebrations.
Henry Hunt fought well for most of the morning session, but in the final over before lunch was tempted to push at a fullish delivery from Siddle that moved away just enough to take a thin edge through to Paine. As well as he bowled, Siddle might well have claimed a few more victims had he prevented the batsmen from shouldering arms by offering a few more balls of similar length.
Ferguson, seeking a more consistent run in the XI after some recent struggles to keep his place, made it as far as 29 before he smeared unattractively across a stumps-seeking ball from Ellis that hit the back pad for a clear lbw. Liam Scott looked composed before fencing at a Webster delivery that bounced a little more than expected and being pouched in the gully, and at 6 for 107 the Redbacks were looking at a tally no better than 150.
Sayers, however, dug in alongside Nielsen, and they were able to combine for a stand worth 55 valuable runs against the older ball. Sayers made it to 30 before he dragged Webster onto the stumps, and the tail did not hang around long enough to take the Redbacks beyond 200.
That left Tasmania with an awkward 11 overs to the close, and Jordan Silk had reason to be nonplussed at being given lbw to a Sayers delivery that seamed and bounced to be clipping the top of leg stump at best. Doolan made it all the way to the penultimate over of the day, before he glanced Kane Richardson into Nielsen’s gloves.
IPL 2020 – MI vs KXIP
Five runs to defend in the Super Over for the Kings XI Punjab against the Mumbai Indians. Mohammed Shami has seen his India team-mate Jasprit Bumrah deliver a masterclass to deny big runs to Nicholas Pooran and KL Rahul. Now, he has to do it himself. The Kings XI are on the edge, a loss could well mean curtains to their season.
At the top of his mark, Shami knew he just had to bowl yorkers – and he nailed them perfectly – as pitching it just an inch away would mean Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock probably sending the ball to the fence.
“It’s very difficult,” Shami told IPLT20.com after T20 cricket’s first-ever twin Super Over bash. “Generally we get to defend 15-17 runs, so back of the mind the thought is, ‘I believe in myself, I can do this’. But when the margin of error is very minimal [while defending five], then you start thinking what’s the best you can do.
“I always believe in my yorkers, I’m not sure what people think. Every ball as I was walking back to my run-up, the thought was that the previous yorker has landed well. This one will also go well. I just repeated the same.”
Then, having forced the game into another one-over shootout, the Kings XI decided to designate Chris Jordan with the ball. The England fast bowler, signed mainly for his death bowling, ensured that the his side required just 12 runs to get the two points they needed to stay alive, despite facing up against Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya.
And that was also down to Mayank Agarwal leaping high at the boundary to save four runs off a Pollard hit by throwing the ball back onto the field of play before himself landing outside the ropes. But his night wasn’t over just yet.
With both Rahul and Pooran being dismissed in the previous Super Over, they needed two new batsmen to come in. Out came Chris Gayle and Agarwal. The Indian opener has been in-form – second on the list of highest run-getters after Rahul – while striking at close to 160. Gayle, meanwhile, was only in his second game of the season. Surely, you’d think Agarwal would take strike? He thought the same too, until Gayle decided to take matter in his own hands.
“I wasn’t nervous, I was a bit more angry and upset that we got ourselves into this position,” Gayle later said with a laugh. “It’s a game of cricket; these things happen. Even with us going to bat, I was upset with you (Agarwal) when you asked, ‘Who is going to face the first ball?’ (laughs) . I’m like, ‘Mayank, you really asked that question?’ I was like ‘Come on, don’t ask me that, I’m going to hit a sixer first ball.'”
Gayle walked the talk, depositing a juicy full toss from Trent Boult over long-on, before taking a single next ball. This left the Kings XI needing five off four. Agarwal’s rapid knock of 89, in his side’s first game this season, wasn’t enough to win the Kings XI the game in regulation time. On that day, against the Delhi Capitals, he had holed out with the Kings XI needing one off two balls and then saw them lose the Super Over. The result flashed in front of him again, and he was determined to do it differently this time.
“One-hundred percent, that Capitals game came to mind,” Agarwal said. “Chris told me, ‘Watch the ball, the rest of it will be fine’. That was on my mind. I just knew I had to hit. It wasn’t like I thought we’ll calculate, take a couple here and there. I just had to it, and it’s amazing to be part of history.”
Eventually, Agarwal sent a full toss over midwicket for four over to ensure no more drama was required for the day.
Dawid Malan secures Hobart Hurricanes deal for BBL
England’s Dawid Malan, the No.1-ranked T20I batsman, has signed a BBL deal with the Hobart Hurricanes.
Malan’s interest in the tournament had been confirmed during the series against Australia when his consistent displays propelled him to the top of the rankings.
In 16 T20Is, Malan has scored 682 runs at 48.71 and a strike-rate of 146.66 with a top score of 103 not not out while he has another four centuries across his T20 career.
He will be part of what is shaping as a very strong Hurricanes top order. Matthew Wade’s availability is likely to be impacted by Test duty, but it will also include D’Arcy Short, Peter Handscomb, Ben McDermott and Mac Wright – the latter making a strong impression when he came into the side last season.
However, Malan’s own availability could yet be restricted due to England commitments with a limited-overs tour of South Africa from late November awaiting government sign-off and talks ongoing about a short T20I trip to Pakistan in mid-January.
The original BBL schedule has the tournament starting on December 3 but there is likely to be some change to that amid the reworking of the season.
All the overseas signings for the BBL are currently England players: Liam Livingstone has returned to Perth while Tom Banton (Brisbane Heat) and Tom Curran (Sydney Sixers) had existing deals.
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