CHENNAI: It’s still early days in the 13th edition of the IPL, but there were indications from Chennai Super Kings (CSK) skipper MS Dhoni and coach Stephen Fleming after the defeat to Rajasthan Royals that they have work to do on the bowling front.
They gave away 216 runs against Royals and what irked Dhoni in particular was the extras they conceded. The CSK bowling will face an even sterner test on Friday as they come up against a power-packed Delhi Capitals (DC) batting line-up in Dubai.
IPL 2020 Points Table
With a line-up boasting of Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shimron Hetmyer, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant and Marcus Stoinis in the top six, Delhi have one of the most explosive batting units in this year’s IPL. The DC top-order did show frailties in their Super Over win against Kings XI Punjab, but Iyer, Pant and Stoinis displayed their ability to rebuild and finish strongly.
On Friday then, CSK will have to come up with a much-improved bowling display. Pacer Lungi Ngidi, in particular, bore the brunt in the final over against Royals when he gave away 30 runs, but CSK’s mantra as a franchise has been to back their players and not make knee-jerk changes.
“It will certainly hit Lungi’s confidence hard, and the key thing is just for him to get better and analyse what he didn’t quite get right. Dwayne Bravo is one of the best death bowlers in the game and he has been giving inputs to Ngidi during practice. We’ll use the experience in the team to make sure he is okay,” Fleming told the CSK website ahead of the game. Ngidi can perhaps take a cue from compatriot Kagiso Rabada, who was very impressive for Delhi in their opening game.
As far as CSK’s batting is concerned, a lot of eyes will naturally be on Dhoni. The CSK skipper was criticised by some for coming in at No. 7 in their previous game and allowing the run chase to drift. While Fleming conceded that it will take time for Dhoni to be at his best, it’s crucial that the 39-year-old gives himself time in the middle against Delhi, especially since Ambati Rayudu – who is nursing a hamstring strain – will miss the game. All-rounder Dwayne Bravo, meanwhile, has recovered from his knee injury but might miss the encounter as a precaution considering there is a week’s break for CSK after the Delhi game.
Delhi, too, have injury concerns with R Ashwin and Ishant Sharma. The off-spinner suffered a shoulder injury while trying to field off his own bowling in their first game against Kings XI Punjab. While Ashwin later said that the injury was not as bad as initially feared, the game against his former side perhaps comes too soon for the man from Chennai. Ishant, on the other hand, didn’t play the first game after a back injury in training.
“We are monitoring Ashwin and Ishant closely and will take a call on them after our practice session on Thursday evening,” DC assistant coach Mohammad Kaif told reporters.