NAVI MUMBAI: Devon Conway’s blazing blade and Moeen Ali’s effective off-breaks beautifully complemented each other as Chennai Super Kings outclassed Delhi Capitals in every department of the game, winning their IPL match by a comprehensive 91-run margin.
Put in to bat, Conway completed a hat-trick of half-centuries with a superb 87 off 49 balls to set up a winning score of 208 for 6 in 20 overs. The scoreboard pressure was always mounting on Capitals as they finally managed 117 in 17.4 overs with Moeen (3/13 in 4 overs) taking wickets of Mitchell Marsh (25 off 20 balls) and skipper Rishabh Pant (21 off 11 balls) in quick succession to finish the contest.
Mukesh Choudhary (2/22 in 4 overs), Simarjeet Singh (2/27 in 4 overs) and Dwayne Bravo (2/24 in 2.3 overs) then completed the formalities as CSK are now up to eight points from 11 games and can earn a maximum of 14 points if they win their remaining three games, which unfortunately doesn’t look like being enough for play-off qualification.
Delhi Capitals remain on fifth position with 10 points and will now need to win all three remaining games and also expect a few other results to favour them if they harbour any hopes of qualification.
What has been a major issue with DC’s 2022 performance is lack of consistency. There are days when they are brilliant and then on other days less than ordinary with inept performances.
KS Bharat (8 off 5 balls) was playing his first game and can be excused but the likes of Mitchell Marsh and Rishabh Pant have hardly done anything of note during the season and even 209 isn’t a chaseable total eight out of 10 times, there wasn’t a semblance of fight.
Pant was dismissed while trying to play against the turn while Marsh was holed out in the deep. By the time Rovman Powell was gone, the match was as good as over.
In fact, the track that looked as flat as a highway suddenly became difficult for strokeplay in the second half. But when Conway was batting, it seemed like a walk in the park for CSK. He hit seven fours and five sixes and also added 110 for the opening wicket with Ruturaj Gaikwad (41 off 33 balls) to lay the foundation for a big score.
Conway added another 59 runs for the second wicket with Shivam Dube (32 off 19 balls) before MS Dhoni (21 no off 8 balls) added insult to DC’s injuries at the fag end.
The South Africa-born New Zealander has been one of the key players for an ageing CSK side in transition and has responded nicely to captain Dhoni’s call of being a like-for-like replacement of Faf du Plessis.
What makes Conway a standout performer among most overseas recruits is his mastery over spinners which is an absolute must to be a consistent success in IPL.
Whether CSK make it to play-off this time or not, Conway in all likelihood will be serving the franchise for the next five years at least.
Along with Gaikwad, Conway showed how aesthetically pleasing stroke-play can destroy the confidence of rival bowlers. There weren’t any lap-scoops, switch hits, reverse flicks but shots within the ‘V’ with immaculate use of feet wile negotiating the spinners. It did help that DY Patil Stadium track resembled a highway due to its flat nature.
Kuldeep Yadav’s (3-0-43-0) length was completely in disarray as Conway repeatedly came down the ground to loft the deliveries with disdain. If the delivery was flighted, Conway would come down the track and hit it down the ground or wide of long-on.
If the bowler kept it flat, he would thump it through the covers and if it was fast an full, he would play the conventional sweep shot over deep square leg. The shot that stood out was a cover drive which was more like a slap with minimal back-lift.
Conway’s third consecutive fifty came off 27 balls as poor Kuldeep had no clue as to what had hit him. His deliveries were like cannon fodder as he was hit for four fours and two sixes in his first spell.
Conway repeated his ‘dancing down the track’ act in Kuldeep’s second spell with another lofted six as DC bowlers were left short of answers on the day.