Delhi Capitals drubbed MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings on Monday by three wickets at the Dubai International Stadium.
After winning the toss, Delhi Capitals skipper Rishabh Pant asked CSK to bat first and his bowlers supported his decision as they restricted the opposition to 136/5 on a sluggish track.
Capitals spinners Axar Patel (2/18) and Ravichandran Ashwin (1/20) made the best use of the conditions in Dubai to reduce CSK 63/4 at 8.3 overs.
CSK skipper MS Dhoni joined Ambati Rayudu at the crease and although the duo batted for more than 10 overs, the former could only add 18 runs from 27 balls in the team’s total.
It was a difficult day for strokeplay: Stephen Fleming defends MS Dhoni & co
Delhi Capitals, too, found it hard to chase the target and it looked like they had lost the match after opener Shikhar Dhawan departed for 39 at the end of the 15th over, the team was reeling at 99/6.
However, some late exploits from West Indies batsman Shimron Hetmyer helped them to cross the finish line and go on the top of the points table.
CSK head coach Stephen Fleming backed Dhoni and said that batters from both sides struggled to score runs and they need to assess the conditions of all three venues very well to compete in the playoffs.
“Well, he (Dhoni) wasn’t the only one who struggled. It was a difficult day for strokeplay. When 137 (136) is almost enough, I think it was a tough wicket to score big on in terms of the big shots. So both teams struggled with that towards the end of the innings. Sometimes you set your sights too high, [want] too many, and probably we were only 10-15 runs short of having a match-winning score,” Fleming said in a virtual press conference.
“So, the difficulty at the moment is to assess what the conditions are in all three different grounds and, batting first, getting a score that is par or just above. It was no lack of intent, it was just we had to stabilise after a couple of mistakes and then we were reasonably well-placed for 150. The other thing was their attack bowled very well in the last five overs. They were very smart, so it was tough going,” he added.
I would rather have two defeats now than in the two semi-finals: Stephen Fleming
CSK have now lost their second game in a row and have also been dethroned from the points table to the second position. Fleming admitted his team made plenty of mistakes in the game against Delhi and they need to keep their intensity the same and regain the top position in their next game.
“I’d rather have two defeats now than in the two semi-finals, if I ever had a wish list. Today was good, today was scrappy and I think there were a lot of mistakes on both sides. Sometimes, when you’ve qualified, I know there are one or two (things) that we were trying hard for… and things do change a little bit,” he said.
“We try to work very hard on keeping the intensity. We’re on the back of three games in five days and a bit of travel, so there were probably clumsy mistakes from us, which was the most disappointing aspect, but in terms of the competition one of the key things is rebounding.
“Second on the table [with] a chance to get to the top two is still a positive position, but we need to just maintain our intensity or get the flow and rhythm that we had before these two games,” said Fleming.
Chennai Super Kings will play their final match of the league stage against Punjab Kings on October 7 in Dubai.