Why did Chennai Super Kings pick Ravindra Jadeja over Dwayne Bravo for the final over?

1
October 17, 2020

Talking points from the IPL 2020 game between the Delhi Capitals and the Chennai Super Kings in Sharjah.

Is Jadeja the Super Kings' new finisher?

Ravindra Jadeja's batting has come on big time. So much so that his contributions down the order have been the cornerstones of a few Test match wins for India.

But aggressive batting? Being able to walk in and start hitting out? That's a very difficult skill to pull off.

Jadeja was in that zone against the Capitals, smoking Anrich Nortje, the fastest bowler in the IPL, to all parts. After his unbeaten 33 off 13 balls, he has, in total, 136 runs off 63 balls in the 16 to 20 over phase. That puts him behind only AB de Villiers, Rahul Tewatia and Kieron Pollard in this year's IPL.

Why did Super Kings pick Jadeja over Bravo for the final over?

MS Dhoni had hidden Jadeja away all through the chase, presumably because of Shikhar Dhawan and his left-handedness. Because of Dhawan, the Super Kings could use only two overs of spin in the first ten. They could only bowl five overs of spin all innings.

And yet, with the match on the line, with 16 to defend off the last over, Dhoni went to Jadeja. Even though death-overs specialist Dwayne Bravo had an over left.

In real time, it felt like Dhoni was gambling. But at the presentation he said, "Bravo was not fit. So he went out and he was not really able to come back. That was the reason. The option was Karn [Sharma] or Jaddu so I went ahead with Jaddu."

The Super Kings might have hoped the batsmen would go for big shots and get caught at the boundary. Axar Patel did... and cleared the boundary three times to seal the victory.

Was the Sharjah pitch really that slow?

Prithvi Shaw fell to a new ball that was holding up in the pitch. An in-form Faf du Plessis found it hard to hit Patel off his length.

It felt like, even though the ground has short boundaries, the wear on the pitch might hamper batsmen.

The Super Kings certainly worked on that assumption. They touched a scoring rate of seven an over for the first time off the last ball of tenth over - the second-latest for any team in Sharjah in this IPL.

But the Capitals, in the second innings, hit 7.71 runs an over, as the powerplay ended and kept ramping it up.

Ricky Ponting, in his mid-match interview, said there was some dew on the pitch. Dhoni also said it was easier to bat in the second innings.

Why is du Plessis looking so much better than his colleagues?

He is one of the few at the Super Kings who like data. One would guess he sits down with the analyst and looks up match-ups and that sort of thing, and he's the one leading their faltering top order.

The reason he has been able to do that is perhaps because he has been looking to attack first.

He moves around in his crease to create his own angles. He's very good at lifting balls over the infield, especially over cover (60 off 35) and midwicket (55 off 27). He's very good on the slog (47 off 17). He knows these strengths. He's maximising on them.

What's the secret to Rayudu's big hitting?

Shane Watson said India missed out by not using Ambati Rayudu as their No. 4 at the World Cup. That was after Rayudu took down Jasprit Bumrah in the opening game of the IPL. And again, against the pace of Nortje and Kagiso Rabada, he looked like a boss.

A large part of his success is because he is a batsman who targets the off side for boundaries. He'd hit 17 fours and five sixes before Saturday. Fourteen of those have come on the off side: mid-off - 2 sixes, 3 fours; covers - 5 fours; point - 2 fours; third man - 2 fours.

Most teams put three men on the boundary on the leg side when the field restrictions are done, and if anyone makes that mistake against Rayudu, he takes full toll.