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Afterthoughts from the weekend ft. graveyard CSK, Warner’s decline and Maxwell the bowler

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Is David Warner slowly but steadily losing his magic?

@ IPL T20

Afterthoughts from the weekend ft. graveyard CSK, Warner’s decline and Maxwell the bowler

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Anirudh Suresh

10/19/2020

IPL weekends are bizarre: some will make you want double-headers to not exist and others, like yesterday, will leave you wishing to get stuck in a never-ending loop of Super Overs. One article won’t suffice to summarize the weekend action, but we’ve tried our best to cram in the biggest takeaways.

Chennai Super Kings vs Delhi Capitals

Dwayne Bravo’s injury might be a blessing in disguise for CSK

As bad and uninspiring CSK’s batting has been, something that has equally hurt them is the impotency of their spinners. Jadeja, Karn and Chawla, between them, have taken just 14 wickets in 58 overs at an economy over 9 and an average north of 37, and this incapacity has made it difficult for the side to control the middle overs.  So in hindsight, given CSK will most likely now be forced their hand into drafting in Imran Tahir, could Bravo’s injury be a blessing in disguise? To say CSK will ‘miss’ Bravo will be a stretch: he’s had a pretty average season thus far and given his underwhelming returns at the death since IPL 2018 - ER of 10.37 in 31 innings; 0.77 wkts per inns - perhaps the team would be better off with someone like a Tahir, who will guarantee wickets, or maybe even a Hazlewood, who will add more teeth up-front. 

CSK is a graveyard for young batsmen

We all are familiar with the story of Baba Aparajith, who spent half a decade rotting in the CSK bench, but hey, at least he was kept out by world-class batsmen. Spare a thought for Gaikwad and Jagadeesan, who have been kept hostage in the CSK bench just so Kedar Jadhav could exist in the field - without batting or bowling. Could you imagine being Jagadeesan? You score a valiant, intent-filled 28-ball 33 in the middle-order on debut only to lose your place in the XI to the guy who you replaced; to the guy who averages 19 and strikes at 98 this season. Duh. Condolences to any young batsman who gets retained or picked by CSK in the forthcoming auction.

Delhi’s season rests on Rishabh Pant’s fitness

Delhi did a remarkable job to win 2 of their last 3 games, in which their XI almost looked unrecognizable, but it only reiterated the fact that one more injury to Pant might completely dismantle their chances. Rahane and Carey are two players who simply don’t offer the right package or solution to this DC side. Special individual efforts pulled the team over the line in each of their last two games, but that won’t be viable in the long run, for the law of averages will eventually catch up. Ponting & Co. better keep Pant wrapped in cotton wool, and along with him Hetmyer too. 

Rajasthan Royals vs Royal Challengers Bangalore

Jos Buttler needs to take more responsibility

Smith, Samson and Uthappa have all come under the scanner this season for their rather ordinary showings, but equally culpable for RR’s horror run is Jos Buttler. In 5 of his 8 outings this season, Buttler, RR’s trump card, has been dismissed between scores of 12 and 25. Often he’s raced off to blinders but has inexplicably thrown his wicket inside the powerplay. For a senior batsman, that’s inexcusable. That he’s now been moved to the middle order is not an excuse - if Smith and Uthappa can adjust to new roles, then so should Buttler. 

RCB need to sort out the roles of their openers

Twice in their last three games, RCB were rescued by AB de Villiers and in the only game he didn’t, they posted a rather unassertive score. This overdependence on the South African is a direct byproduct of the innocuous nature of their top three, all of whom have batted at a snail’s rate. Thus far this season, all three of Finch, Paddikal and Kohli have boasted a sub-128 strike rate. This lack of role-clarity, particularly amongst the two openers, has meant that one too many times they’ve had to play catch-up in the back half of their innings. Twice they’ve done a Houdini act, thrice if you count Kohli’s efforts versus CSK, but this unhealthy habit will hurt them in the long run. It’s time they give one of Paddikal or Finch the license to kill; there’s no point in three batsmen playing anchor. 

Jaydev Unadkat isn’t to be blamed

Post his 25-run penultimate over where he got ABD’d, Unadkat has been getting hate left, right and centre, but is he to blame, really? Prior to this season, RR had a sample size of 26 innings in their own jersey in which the left-armer had leaked over 10 runs on average per over. Yet, they went back to him, even after dropping him mid-season, and even after knowing raw pace has worked like a charm in UAE. The management are doing no favours to both themselves and Unadkat by throwing him in the line of fire, time and again. You have a ready-made weapon for these conditions in the form of Varun Aaron. Use him, please. 

Kolkata Knight Riders vs Sunrisers Hyderabad

Pat Cummins’ season is coming to an end

Turns out, KKR had laid their trust in the wrong man for the first eight matches. On Sunday, Lockie Ferguson made his first appearance of the season and produced a perfect performance, one that was twice as good as every Cummins performance from the first 8 games put together. The bad news for Mr. 15.5 crore is that, with Narine’s action now cleared, his time in IPL 2020 might be coming to a close. Morgan, Narine and Russell, subject to fitness, being automatic picks means that KKR can’t do a MI or DC and field two overseas quicks and that, in turns, after Ferguson’s heroics yesterday, could spell a premature end to the season for Cummins. Who’d have thought?

David Warner is in the midst of his worst IPL season in years

Raw numbers will tell you that David Warner, with 331 runs to his name, is averaging 41 this season but in reality, IPL 2020 has been a struggle for the Australian. Never once has he looked at ease at the crease and Sunday was exhibit 9 of Warner struggling to dispatch balls at will, even when the situation demanded him to do so. The truth is, the Warner of 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and heck even 2019, would have taken SRH over the line on Sunday with balls to spare. This season he’s hit an avg of just 3.88 boundaries per game, almost 2.5 fewer than his tally from the last four seasons, which was a brisk 6.5. His failure to put a rank dobbler away on the final ball was a damning indictment of how far he’s fallen this season.

Mumbai Indians vs Kings XI Punjab

Did Punjab expose a chink in Mumbai’s armour?

Not many gave a chance to the bottom-placed side chasing 177 against the best bowling attack in the competition, but Kings XI Punjab almost managed to knock off the runs without breaking a sweat. How they managed it is what should interest the other teams. The batters went hammer and tongs against everyone not named Bumrah, effectively forcing Rohit’s hand in introducing his talisman into the attack at times he would not have preferred. Less than ideally for Mumbai, Bumrah had been bowled out by over 18 which, in turn, enabled Punjab to bat without fear in the final two. RCB did something similar in their victory over MI earlier this season, thus there might just be a clue lying somewhere for teams, hereon, to invest in proactively dismantling the rest of the Mumbai attack, barring Bumrah. Might not come off every day but that might just be the best bet.

Should Punjab keep Maxwell in the side for his bowling?

While Maxwell’s batting, not for the first time in the IPL, has rightfully come under scrutiny, what’s slipped under the radar has been his bowling, which has played a humongous role in each of Punjab’s last two wins. Given the responsibility to open the bowling, Maxwell returned figures of 0/28 and 0/24 off his spells in the last two matches and in the Mumbai game, he was, in fact, the joint-most economical bowler in the entire game. So given the Australian has quietly strangled opposition batsmen, thereby giving Rahul more options at the death, is there a case for KXIP to almost view him as a bowling all-rounder, and persist with the winning combination? One glance at his numbers with the bat will suggest otherwise but perhaps Punjab would just be better off leaving things untouched for at least one more game. 

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