In his column for the Times of India, Manjrekar wrote, “Will Chennai drop Shane Watson? He has looked woefully out of form so far. It’s a question many are asking but those who know MS Dhoni really well, will know the answer to it. No chance! That’s not his style. But having said that, he has gone about tweaking his side a little which he does not like doing. He got in Shardul Thakur while retaining Deepak Chahar, Sam Curran and Dwayne Bravo, so he has accepted the fact that he needs more than five bowlers, if Ravindra Jadeja is one of his five. This allowed him to bowl Jadeja just two overs in their last game against Hyderabad.”
IPL 2020 POINTS TABLE
Nothing has worked for Chennai despite having the resources and they are sitting at the bottom of the points table. They even made three changes to their playing XI for Friday’s game against Sunrisers Hyderabad but neither comeback of Ambati Rayudu nor the presence of Dwayne Bravo could lift the gloom.
“So the great captain has had to change his ways a bit and may be when the time comes, he may even change his basic principles too, one of which is to not tamper with the team too much. For this is an unfamiliar situation for him. Who knows we may see Dhoni do what is often associated with Virat, constant churning of players in and out of the playing XI,” Manjrekar added.
Chennai have it in them to turn it around but everything — fielding, bowling and batting — has to come together. When the result go a team’s way, many of the frailties gets hidden but even the smallest of things get exposed when the opposite happens.
“Chennai got their eleven mostly right in the last game, but can afford to go one seamer short after encouraging performances from Shardul and Chahar. Dhoni could rest Bravo or Watson to get Imran Tahir in. Tahir was brilliant for them last season albeit on different pitches but Dhoni wants his bowling attack to have an edge on good pitches. leg-spinner Tahir may give it more than Bravo. I concede these are difficult choices,” Manjrekar opined.
Dhoni has batted under tremendous pressure in the initial games and the huge expectations make his and his team’s failure look worse. By the time he goes after the attack, the asking rate would soar to unprecedented levels. If the team can manage enough runs in the middle overs, it will give some cushion to Dhoni and other capable batsmen down the order.
“That’s about the team composition but what’s been quite glaring to see so far in the tournament has been the approach of many batsmen including a few from Chennai. A lot of them are playing in third gear, most of the innings deliberately reining themselves in hope to have a final flourish in the end. They are taking this tactic a bit too far for their own good, leaving themselves too much to get in the end. And let’s not forget towards the end, are also lurking some quality bowlers so it’s not easy to take them on. Chennai’s batsmen like Ambati Rayudu could do well to stay in the moment and get the best at the time rather than plan for later. Some of Delhi’s batsmen are also guilty of sticking to this flawed approach,” Manjrekar wrote.
Kings XI Punjab has been batting well, though results have not exactly gone in their favour. Despite scoring in excess of 200 twice, the Punjab side lost those matches because of their limited bowling resources.
“Punjab have just two areas to sort out, one the Maxwell issue and his ‘perpetual out of form’ situation which is baffling, but, that also means that Sarfaraz Khan and Krishnappa Gowtham, two dangerous T20 batsmen, are getting under-utilised because Punjab want to give Maxwell the platform. The other issue for Punjab is their death bowling, best to stay real I think and finish Cottrell off early and get Jordan back in place of Neesham to bowl in the death,” Manjrekar signed off.