Chennai Super Kings survived some tense moments during their 18-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders in their Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 match on Wednesday (April 21) but skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said his job became ‘quite easy’ towards the end of the game.
CSK posted a big total of 220 for 3 after being asked to bat and then reduced KKR to 31 for five. Andrew Russell (54) and Pat Cummins (66 not out) went on a six-hitting spree to keep KKR in the hunt before being bowled out for 202 in 19.1 overs.
“Quite easy in a game like this. From the 16th over onwards the contest was between the fast bowler and the batsman. You can’t do too much. Can’t put a different field. It’s about you vs me. The side that has won is a side that has executed slightly better,” Dhoni said at the post-match presentation.
“You don’t want to take too many early wickets. Big hitters coming in, 200 runs, there’s only one way they’ll play. Not much you can do. The only option was Jadeja. It was turning, was a bit dry.”
Despite putting up 220 on board, Dhoni felt it was a chaseable total. “If they would’ve had more wickets, could’ve been different. Have seen enough in cricket, always like to be humble. There’s no good reason if you have scored, the opposition can’t score.
“My lines to the players was that we have got good runs on the board but let’s be humble.”
Sent into bat, Faf du Plessis (95 not out) and Ruturaj Gaikwad (64) knocked the daylight out of KKR bowlers, adding 115 for the opening wicket to lay the foundation. “The batting has been really good. Rutu is somebody who has shown his class in the last IPL. You always need to assess where he is mentally. Once when he was off guard, I just asked him how are you feeling today,” Dhoni said.
“When you put a question like that, you wait for the reactions, you see what’s in his eyes. There was enough in his reactions to suggest he wasn’t rattled. That’s what I’ve been doing all my life (applying psychology) but in a good way.”
Losing skipper Eoin Morgan said he didn’t think his team had a chance after they were reduced to 31 for five in 5.2 overs.
“It’s (pulse) quite high at the moment. What a hell of a game of cricket. Certainly from the position we were in after our powerplay, we probably didn’t think we’d get as close as we did,” he said.
“But Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik really did put a partnership together, once you do that taking advantage of the conditions here, it’s very difficult to stop. A partnership going in that manner and then following that Pat Cummins the way he played really gave us every chance towards the end. Tremendous fight from our middle and lower order which is all you can ask for when you lose wickets upfront like that.”
Defending 220, CSK pacer Deepak Chahar (4/29) produced a sensational spell, claiming four wickets, while Lungi Ngidi (3/28) captured one to leave KKR tottering at 31 for 5 in 5.2 overs.
“I don’t know (what I am doing right). I am just trying to bowl straight balls and it is swinging. It was a good wicket to bowl on, the ball was swinging and seaming,” Chahar said.
“I didn’t pick a lot of wickets last year and I realised later that when I’m bowling the first over I have the responsibility and if I get 1-2 wickets in the powerplay, the tone is set.”
Chahar said his team bowled some really bad balls to allow the KKR batsmen to be in the run chase. “The dew came in, the ball was coming on nicely, some good batting by Russell and we also bowled some bad balls, so it was a combination of everything,” he said.
“Even the cutters Sam was bowling were coming onto the bat. I was thinking we should not lose this match, they were batting really well and at one point needed 40 off 20 balls which is very gettable on this ground. It is always good to win matches like this in the group stage as you learn a lot of things.”