CHANDIGARH: After their loss against Kings XI Punjab on Sunday, Chennai Super Kings head coach Stephen Fleming, while outlining the difficulties that his men have been facing for the past week, also elaborated on what he deemed as an ideal scenario for the team.“I’d love a game where we bowl a team out for 140 and then chase it down. But the competition is very even.”
Yes, they’ve scrapped their way to two intense victories, and have overcome the far-from-ideal cards that fate and misguided politics have dealt to them since the beginning of their campaign. But, these “baptism by fire” situations have ostensibly coalesced in the first place because of one particular ailment that has afflicted them right since April 7: a pace contingent that has hardly posed a threat to oppositions in three matches.
For starters, none of the Super Kings speedsters (or all their bowlers, for that matter) have an economy rate that is below 8. Shane Watson and Deepak Chahar are the two men who concede runs in single-digits every over, with their figures reading 8.30 and 9.85 respectively. The other three fast bowlers who have rolled their arms over — Shardul Thakur, Dwayne Bravo, and Mark Wood — have leaked 10.00, 10.18, and 12.25 from each over that they have sent down to oppositions.
If that is enough to flesh out a basic idea of the pace-bowling problem that the Super Kings are currently mired in, then the way they have persisted with what can only be deemed as injurious lengths despite being tonked around in three matches paints quite the vivid picture.
They had Mumbai Indians on the mat after reducing the three-time champions to 39/2 after the powerplay. Watson’s and Bravo’s frugality notwithstanding (the only two four-over Chennai pacer spells with an economy below 8), Mark Wood’s length-related profligacy in the death overs saw Krunal Pandya rub his hands in glee and cash in fully, as Mumbai inflated their total by at least 20 more runs.
In the next clash, Kolkata Knight Riders had been reduced to 89/5 by the midway mark. But Andre Russell was invited to a feast of length offerings by Bravo, Thakur, and Watson. The West Indies marauder obliged, carpet-bombing the MA Chidambaram Stadium with 11 gargantuan sixes, the most hit in an IPL innings that hasn’t crossed the 100-run mark.But Bravo’s own heroics and an indomitable outing from Sam Billings perhaps pushed this malaise under the rug.
But, a top-order blitzkrieg in Mohali that was put forth by Chris Gayle, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal brought it to the fore again. A grand total of 122 runs were pilfered from the mostly-in-the-arc offerings that Chennai speedsters doled out, with only three wickets to show for their toil.Fleming acknowledged Chennai were aware of their lack of penetration with the ball up front, and wanted to put a band-aid on it before their next clash against the Rajasthan Royals at their new home, Pune. “Wickets at the top are important. We have seen teams do that. We have got to reassess that and make sure that we have the right combination.”