Chennai Super Kings' skipper MS Dhoni said their batting wasn’t up to the mark, especially in the middle overs, after a five-wicket defeat against Gujarat Titans in the opening game of the Indian Premier League 2023 on Friday (March 31).
Ruturaj Gaikwad smoked four fours and nine sixes in his 50-ball 92, while the other batters in the famed outfit struggled to get going.
Moeen Ali (17-ball 23) and Dhoni (seven-ball 14*) played handy cameos but the likes of Devon Conway (six-ball 1), Ambati Rayudu (12-ball 12) and Shivam Dube (18-ball 19) wasted too many deliveries.
“Another 15-20 runs would have been good. We all know there would be a little bit of dew. Also, it was a 7.30 pm start so the ball holds on a little early on. We could have batted properly in the middle overs as opposed to trying to muscle the ball. Ruturaj (Gaikwad) was brilliant, he times the ball well, and he's a pleasure to watch. The way he picks his options, it is pleasing to watch,” said Dhoni at the post-match presentation ceremony.
In the second innings, Rajvardhan Hangargekar (3/36) was impressive but Tushar Deshpande (1/51 in 3.2) almost single-handedly lost the game for Chennai. Not playing Dwaine Pretorius also hurt Chennai as they had to rely on Indian fast bowlers, which didn’t really work out for them.
“I think it's important for the youngsters to step in. I think Raj (Hangargekar) has pace and he will get better with time. Think the bowlers will get better, a no-ball is something that's in your control, so you need to work on that,” said Dhoni.
Meanwhile, Gujarat captain Hardik Pandya also said that he was expecting Chennai to score 200 and complimented Alzarri Joseph and Rashid Khan for restricting them to a par score. Despite a blazing start from Wriddhiman Saha, a 16-ball 25, and Shubman Gill, a 36-ball 63, Gujarat needed the power and precision of their spin duo - Rashid Khan and Rahul Tewatia - to guide them to victory.
“Obviously very happy. We did put ourselves in a difficult situation but Rahul and Rashid did very well. We were happy at the mid-innings because at one point they looked like getting 200, but we got those couple of wickets to pull things back,” said Pandya.
“This game I realised bowling hard lengths was the way to go, that's why Alzarri bowled late. Having Rashid is a real asset, he will get you wickets and get you some runs late down the order as well. But today my shot and Shubman's shot wasn't the best, we need to do better to ensure we don't put the responsibility on these guys lower down.”
It was Rashid who was named Player of the Match for contributing both with the ball and bat. “So happy to get this crucial Man of the Match. Will give me a lot of the energy for the rest of the competition. I try to do my best in all three formats, and give it all in the practice sessions,” said Rashid.
“The plan is hard to bowl to lefties, but the idea was to keep it tight and I knew in my mind that if I keep it simple and get two wickets, we will be back in the game. I knew if I kept it simple we will get the results.”