Focus on misfiring batting unit as LSG eye a return to winning ways

MS Dhoni for CSK (Image: IPL)

When MS Dhoni smacked the Mumbai Indians captain Hardik Pandya for three sixes in the final over of Chennai Super Kings’ innings at the Wankhede stadium recently, there was pandemonium in the stands. Basically, despite it being an away game for CSK, Dhoni had the lion’s share of support at that moment. 

CSK’s next match is against Lucknow Super Giants in Lucknow, and by the looks of it, a sizeable number of fans will again back the former India skipper. Undoubtedly, the charm and aura of the former India skipper continues to grow. There is another CSK cricketer whose popularity is one the rise, and that is  Sri Lankan bowler Matheesha Pathirana. In good batting conditions at the Wankhede Stadium, the pace bowler’s four-for turned out to be the telling difference.

While playing for Sri Lanka, the ‘slingy’ bowler’s mechanics seem to go a bit awry. But the CSK coaching staff,  perhaps, does a better job of monitoring his progress. CSK would be hoping for another Pathirana masterclass — a mixture of yorkers, short deliveries and slower ones — in Lucknow. 

Meanwhile, the theme for LSG has been their inconsistent batting unit. The likes of Devdutt Padikkal, Krunal Pandya, Marcus Stoinis, Deepak Hooda and Marcus Stonis haven’t made much of an impression with the willow. Incidentally, Padikkal has amassed just 25 runs in five matches this season and his strike rate is an abysmal 75.76. No wonder, Justin Langer, LSG’s head coach, was having a word with him about the head position. 

On a slightly positive note, Ayush Badoni has looked in decent touch in the last few games. Although his strike rate of 124.18 is on the lower side. Nicholas Pooran and KL Rahul are the only two players who have notched up more than 200 runs in IPL 2024. And even among the two, there have been question marks over Rahul’s strike rate. There is a chance that LSG could play on the same pitch where they got 199 in one of the previous games versus Punjab Kings. And that might help their batters to regain some form. 

There will also be enough interest surrounding Mayank Yadav’s possible return. The fast bowler’s ability to extract awkward bounce from a slightly fuller length troubled the batters of PBKS and Royal Challengers Bengaluru. LSG did pick Shamar Joseph in their last game versus Kolkata Knight Riders. However, the tearaway bowler is very inexperienced when it comes to playing T20 cricket and he conceded runs.

So, who will come out on top in this clash between the third and fifth placed sides? Will LSG negate CSK’s strengths by playing on a track with more bounce in it? What about LSG’s misfiring batting unit? Will Dhoni once again send the crowd into a frenzy with his pyrotechnics? It promises to be a keen tussle, with LSG having a chance to get back to winning ways at their home ground.