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The CSK vs RCB game on April 12 was a must win game for CSK. And the kings bounced back in true Chennai Super Kings style. Whistle Podu!

It was Jadeja’s first win as captain. With Deepak Chahar and Adam Milne still recovering from injuries, CSK wound the clock 12 years back and used a formula that led them to their maiden title win in 2010. Here’s how.

Shivam Dube. (Photo Credit: Chennai Super Kings Twitter page)

Pinch hitting southpaws

CSK was struggling against RCB in the powerplay and their former orange cap winner, Ruturaj Gaikwad, was dismissed again in the first six overs. But what happened next is for the record books. Shivam Dube and ageless Uthappa combined for a 150+ run partnership decimating the middle overs and propelling CSK to 216, the highest total set by a team so far. And CSK ended their five game loosing streak.

But have we seen this before? The team formation and batting line-up had a remarkable similarity with the 2010 squad that went on to win the title. Let’s decode.

In the 2010 final, CSK opened their batting with Murali Vijay and Mathew Hayden. Raina batted at 3, followed by Badrinath, Dhoni and Morkel. This meant three left handers in the top 5. Against RCB on Tuesday, CSK opened with Gaikwad and Uthappa, followed by Moeen, Dube and Jadeja. Dhoni bats at 6 now-a-days. Again, there were three southpaws in top 5.

If one game is something to go by, then spin-oriented, middle-over pinch hitting game plan will surely bring back some rhythm and lost momentum into this CSK side.

Since CSK have struggled to get going in the batting powerplays, they are employing the 2010 cheatcode – that is to pack mid card with left handers to counter the spin threat and release the pressure. Like Morkel, Dube is a pinch hitter, relying on strength and long levers to clear the ropes. Dube finished 96* with 8 sixes and 5 fours in the CSK vs RCB match.

Suresh Raina or Chinna Thala used to take the game to the opponent and CSK set the same with Moeen, a fearless experienced international cricketer given a pre-defined role. Batters like Rayudu and Badrinath back then were employed to arrest a slide if the team lost 3 or 4 wickets in the powerplay. The formula worked in 2010 and it surely worked in 2022.

Pure overseas spinner and mystery spin

It was a bit of a surprise to see Sri Lankan mystery spinner Maheesh Theekshana opening the bowling for CSK in in the CSK vs RCB powerplays. The decision was partly forced considering the absence of Chahar. But the tactic worked with Theekshana spinning the web around RCB batters and bagging four wickets in the process.

Maheesh Theekshana. (Photo Credit: Chennai Super Kings Twitter page)

We have seen in the past that Dhoni was  always twice the captain when spinners are operating from both ends. The famous middle over chokehold CSK employed in the dry Chepauk pitches was a testimony of the same. But since 2018, CSK had to play outside Chennai owing to pandemic and other issues. This curtailed the team’s ability to deploy a spin-based attack. With Moeen, Jadeja and Theekshana, CSK have the perfect trio to use spin at the top, middle and slog overs. The way the trio operated against RCB brought back memories of Ashwin, Jakati and Muralidharan. The trio was a vital cog for two title winning seasons in restricting the opponents in middle overs.

Sri Lankan legend Muralidharan picked up 40 wickets in three seasons for CSK and still remains the only pure overseas spinner who played regularly for the franchise. (Imran Tahir is the other, but was barely used in 2020 season). The overseas combination never allowed CSK to reserve a slot for a pure bowler who doesn’t give much with the bat. Departure of Faf and rebirth of Uthappa as an opener ensured that CSK could slot in Theekshana. The mystery spinner provides more wicket taking options and Jadeja can hold back Bravo and Jordan for death overs.

As the season progresses, the pacey, bouncy tracks of Mumbai are expected to dry up and that will bring CSK spinners into the tournament. If one game is something to go by, then spin-oriented, middle-over pinch hitting game plan will surely bring back some rhythm and lost momentum into this CSK side.

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