MS Dhoni, Chennai Super Kings and their fans finally had a reason to smile. After a string of below-par performances, CSK finally found their feet in the Indian Premier League (IPL), as they beat Sunrisers Hyderabad to keep their playoff hopes alive. This is just their third win in this year’s IPL and the one that they needed badly to regain the confidence.
One player who played a key role in finding the team’s mojo back is Sam Curran. The England all-rounder has seen his stock rise within a star-studded setup and has contributed effectively with both bat and ball for the Super Kings this season.
MS Dhoni and the Super Kings pull off a surprising move by promoting Sam Curran as an opener. The move might have surprised the Sunrisers Hyderabad, but according to the Chennai Super Kings team management, it was certainly not a bolt from the blue. The move has been in the works for a while now, with Dhoni keen to push Curran up the order.
It is no secret that the Super Kings have not had their usual blistering starts in last few matches, which has made life bit difficult for the already depleted middle-order.
Curran made an instant impact with a quickfire 31, proving his utility as a reliable all-rounder.
The English all-rounder has shown over the years how well he can strike the ball and CSK decided his skills had to be utilised more effectively. And despite Faf du Plessis perishing for a first-ball duck, Curran’s cameo enabled CSK to a rapid start, a rarity for them.
However, Curran opening the batting is hardly a surprise, as the Southpaw has done it in the past when he was playing for the Kings XI Punjab in the last edition of the cash-rich league.
Sam Curran gives the first break
Despite the win, CSK remain a long shot away from making it to the playoffs. But they’ve made an impressive start to the second half of the league stage. When the chips were down for CSK, Sam Curran held the fort almost single-handedly for the yellow-army.
In eight matches this year, Curran has played some brisk cameos and justified his position in the team by fulfilling his role to perfection. The Englishman has scored his runs at a blistering strike-rate of 181.30, to go with the 8 wickets he has picked in as many games.
On Tuesday as well, Curran got the big wicket of Warner early, while Deepak Chahar bowled all his overs first up and conceded just 28 runs. It was then time for CSK to deliver a classic chokehold in the middle overs. Jadeja, who has had a quiet tournament with the ball, showed how effective he can be when there’s turn on offer by cleaning up the dangerous Jonny Bairstow. Karn Sharma played his part as well by picking up two important wickets.
Curran’s all-round success has added more depth to the Super Kings’ line-up and if he can continue to make powerful cameos at the top, it could ease the burden on the Super Kings’ misfiring middle order in the second half of the tournament.
Winners are grinners ft. Bravo & Curran
— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) October 14, 2020
Sam Curran and the setup
The move to ask Curran to open the innings solves two key issues for Dhoni and coach Stephen Fleming. Firstly, it gives them a quick start-something that they’ve struggled with this season. And it also frees up the likes of Rayudu, Du Plessis and MS Dhoni to bide some time in the middle overs. More importantly, this move also allows them to bring in an extra bowler without the balance of the XI getting affected.
No wonder, MS Dhoni gave a glowing appraisal of Curran’s all-round performance, calling him a ‘complete cricketer’ who can bat anywhere and even counter the spinners. Fleming too said that they wanted to tweak with the combination because the nature of their defeats was becoming “too familiar.”
“We had Sam padded up for every innings. We thought that rather than getting clogged up, we should be certain about Sam and put him on the front. Put the onus on the batting group instead of shuffling it. We wanted to do something different because our losses were becoming too familiar,” Fleming said in the post-match press conference.
The CSK head coach was quick to hail Sam Curran’s contributions for the side so far.
Now that CSK have found a way to make the most of Curran’s abilities, can the all-rounder stand up and guide CSK to the improbable target of a playoff berth? Only time will tell.