Just when the first objective was in sight, after seven wins from its first eight games, defending champion Chennai Super Kings’ march to the playoffs in Vivo IPL-12 has been halted.
The twin defeats on the road, first to Sunrisers Hyderabad and then Sunday’s agonising one-run loss to Royal Challengers Bangalore, meant the table-toppers are still waiting to seal their place in the final four, which an eighth win should certainly do.
Lack of runs
While a 2-2 result after four away matches is not bad, considering the team has been unbeatable on home soil, the last few matches have highlighted a problem the team has been facing since the start of the season — lack of runs at the top. And CSK needs to set that right before it derails the team’s progress further.
On Tuesday, CSK starts a run of three home matches, beginning against SRH and would hope to keep its unbeaten run at home going.
Coach Stephen Fleming had some stern words regarding the top order’s performance after Sunday’s loss. “We have a very talented batting unit but it has been inconsistent.
“On the Chennai pitches, it has been a little bit difficult to find form and we have really struggled in our away games with the bat. We crossed the line today (on Sunday) in terms of playing sensible cricket,” he said.
The numbers say it all. CSK has had only two 50-plus opening partnerships so far with the highest being 79 against Hyderabad in which the batting collapsed after the good start.
Shane Watson (avg: 14.70), Suresh Raina (23.00), Ambati Rayudu (24.00) and Kedar Jadhav (20.71) have struggled and only nine times has the team managed 50-plus partnerships.
CSK is a team that believes in giving its players a long rope but it might now want to think whether Watson and Jadhav need to make way for Sam Billings or M. Vijay, who had a good domestic T20 tournament for Tamil Nadu.
“While we have been able to get seven wins, we are not happy with how we have achieved them. We would like to see some form creeping back into that top-order.”
Williamson to miss game
Hyderabad will come into the game on the back of a two easy wins over CSK and KKR, but will miss the services of skipper Kane Williamson, who has travelled back home for personal reasons.
The team will hope to make the most of Jonny Bairstow (playing his last game this season) and David Warner’s form and availability. The two have scored 962 runs together and Sunrisers has got its campaign back on track after a hiccup in between when it lost three consecutive matches.
That is something the home team would want to avoid on Tuesday.