Here's why CSK and RCB are stuck in neutral

Two Franchises, Chennai Super Kings and the Royal Challengers Bangalore, finalists from IPL 4, loaded with talent are but stuck in neutral. In fact they are regressing.

Subash Jayaraman May 04, 2012 12:55:20 IST
Here's why CSK and RCB are stuck in neutral

Two Franchises, Chennai Super Kings and the Royal Challengers Bangalore, finalists from IPL 4, loaded with talent are but stuck in neutral. In fact they are regressing.

The results on the field aren’t reflective of the strength of the squads on paper. These are teams that would have prominently figured in the final four of anybody’s pre-tournament bracket, for all the right reasons. Yet, they find themselves to be in the fifth and sixth position in the points table, respectively, more than half through the tournament, with a realistic chance of missing the knock out stages.

What seems to be the problem?

For starters, the thinking behind the selection of the playing XI does not seem to be clear. Royal Challengers Bangalore seem to be holding on to the philosophy of stacking their batting with international stars, who are of very high quality, and leaving their bowling threadbare. The Chennai Super Kings have a surfeit of excellent allrounders and are not able to figure out their batting order.

Heres why CSK and RCB are stuck in neutralCSK captain Dhoni. AFP

Chennai has at its disposal Dwayne Bravo, Albie Morkel, Ravindra Jadeja and the captain himself, MS Dhoni as allrounders with the ability to turn the match on its head on their own. Add to this Suresh Raina, the delayed joining of Mike Hussey and the fine form of Faf du Plessis. That’s as formidable a top seven as any in the tournament.

R Ashwin and Shadab Jakati play the role of the spinners with S Badrinath and Yo Mahesh chipping in. M Vijay’s loss of form has severely upset the Chennai balance as that would have allowed them to sit one of the two non-Indian openers and bring in reinforcements in the fast bowling department.

Chennai have also missed a trick by underutilising the batting abilities of Morkel by leaving him too far down the order. The same could be said about their captain. They just aren’t sure of themselves as to when to go on the attack. By delaying the charge, more often than not, they have ended up with below par scores.

Bangalore have long hedged their bets on the bats of Chris Gayle, Dilshan, Kohli and the enterprise of AB de Villiers, with their captain Vettori taking up the fourth foreign player slot, they have been severely dependent on the Indian bowlers to come through. With Zaheer Khan being off colour (he never was that great a bowler in T20s) and the million dollar signing Vinay Kumar having one of the worst economy rates of IPL 5, they haven’t had many places to hide and have been rudely exposed.

Both these teams need to follow the Delhi template. Stack up the top 4, who play out nearly 16 overs each outing, and have a couple of very good foreign pacers, ably supported by local spinners.

The way forward for Bangalore is to give Dilshan a break. That spot needs to go to the magician Muralitharan, who is a wicket-taker and as economical as they come. If Bangalore fancy McDonald that much, then their captain needs to hand over the reigns to Kohli and make way for McDonald. Mayank Agarwal can open with Gayle without losing too much in terms of production. Dirk Nannes, who is fit now, is waiting in the wings and can also be brought in to bolster the bowling.

Chennai needs to make sure their power hitters get to the pitch with more than just 2 overs to spare. A line up of du Plessis, Hussey, Raina, Dhoni, Bravo and Morkel with the batsmen going hard early seems to be way forward. If they feel the need to bolster their fast bowling resources, Hilfenhaus who has been in great form for Australia this season can be brought in at the expense of Hussey, with Badrinath partnering du Plessis at the top.

With only 6 matches to go before the knockouts for each of these two teams, it is time to be bold with their selections. The muddled strategy employed in the first half has left them in the bottom half of the table. It is about time the teams picked up their game to reflect the caliber of the players they have in their squad.

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