Chennai Super Kings had qualified for playoffs even before they took on the dispirited Delhi Daredevils at Chepauk on Tuesday. In spite of this, full credit must be given to Chennai for not lowering the bar for the inconsequential game. The hosts actually batted as if their qualification depended on winning the game. They were in top gear both, batting first and, even with the ball, were forever in command. As for Delhi Daredevils, they just did not seem interested at all, and they had every reason to be so having been knocked out long back.
Batting first, skipper M S Dhoni made the smart move of promoting himself up at number four. More importantly, he came up with the big hits at the end, which took Chennai to a highly competitive total. When he came in to bat, Chennai weren’t in too comfortable a position, but Dhoni batted without a worry in the world, and by the end of the innings, Chennai pretty much had the game in their grasp. The in-form Mike Hussey and Murali Vijay came up with brisk knocks at the start of the innings, but both fell at a time when they should have ideally blossomed.
In the context of the game, Ravindra Jadeja’s quick cameo towards the end was also important. The runs he got at the end, and also those of Dwayne Bravo, aided Dhoni in taking Chennai to a comfortable position. Not surprisingly, the Delhi bowlers were very poor with the exception of Umesh Yadav, who bowled a tight line and length, and was also among the wickets. The experienced Irfan Pathan looked out of sorts, Siddarth Kaul and Ashish Nehra were pedestrian while Johan Botha and van Der Merwe only made up the numbers.
Delhi’s batting was equally atrocious. Virender Sehwag seemed uninterested as he fell for a duck. Of the others, only David Warner, as he has so often done for Delhi this season, came up with a substantial knock. And like every occasion before even this time his knock was in vain, the only difference was that this time he was captaining the side. Botha, van der Merwe and Unmukt Chand got starts, but were disappointed since none of them could put their hands up to support Warner. In the end, Delhi were outplayed one more time.
Things were easy for Chennai’s bowlers, but they made sure they took full advantage of Delhi’s weaknesses. Mohit Sharma got the early breakthroughs while Ravichandran Ashwin, Albie Morkel and Dwayne Bravo all chipped in with vital wickets while keeping the runs down. Delhi just did not possess the mental aptitude to hang around for a fight. In a nutshell, Delhi were never ever in the hunt, and thus lost in a rather unconvincing manner in the end.
Turning point of the game: Dhoni’s unbeaten 58 from 35 balls, which gave Delhi a tough total to chase.
--By A Cricket Analyst