With the short boundaries and the good wicket playing into their hands, RR's batsmen made merry after being put in to bat by MS Dhoni. Sanju Samson and Steve Smith were the stars of the show for RR, with the former in particular taking the attack to the CSK spinners.
A late assault by Jofra Archer meant that RR reached a score of 216/7, and in response, CSK could manage only 200 despite an fighting knock from Faf du Plessis. Rahul Tewatia was the pick of the bowlers as he picked up 3 wickets on a pitch that had little in it for the spinners.
We take a look at 3 tactical mistakes that were made during the RR vs CSK IPL 2020 match.
#3 RR played Robin Uthappa in the middle order despite Jos Buttler's absence
With Jos Buttler missing this game due to an extended quarantine period, many expected veteran batsman Robin Uthappa to walk out to bat alongside Yashasvi Jaiswal. But RR captain Steve Smith sprung an early surprise by promoting himself to an opening role and although he did score a fluent 69, the middle order was woefully exposed.
Miller, Uthappa, Tewatia and Parag scored 0, 5, 10 and 6 respectively, and if it weren't for Jofra Archer's assault on the poor Lungi Ngidi in the final over, the outcome of this game might have been different. Moreover, Uthappa has never looked settled in the middle order, and his release from the Kolkata Knight Riders was largely due to his inability to perform when not opening.
Smith might have decided to make this decision in order to prepare Uthappa for when Buttler returns, but this game could've easily slipped out of RR's hands.
#2 CSK chose to employ a 5-bowler strategy that left them without options
On a ground with a batting track and very short boundaries, CSK captain MS Dhoni chose to go in with just 5 bowlers, and this left him woefully short of options when the RR batsmen went on the attack.
Piyush Chawla and Lungi Ngidi conceded 55 and 56 runs respectively in their 4 overs, while Ravindra Jadeja didn't get much purchase from the surface. Sam Curran and Deepak Chahar were CSK's only saving graces as far as the bowling was concerned, and the presence of Buttler and Ben Stokes might have put the game beyond the Men in Yellow's reach after the first innings alone.
Kedar Jadhav was the only other bowling option at MS Dhoni's disposal, and the stocky all-rounder has never bowled a ball in the IPL. CSK would do well to add another bowling option at the expense of either Murali Vijay or Ruturaj Gaikwad, with the likes of Imran Tahir, Shardul Thakur and Dwayne Bravo (if he is fit) on the bench.
This was further emphasised by the fact that Ravindra Jadeja, batting as low as No. 8, came in only in the penultimate over, with Deepak Chahar and Chawla - both of whom aren't totally incapable with the bat - to follow.
#1 MS Dhoni's batting position and his lack of intent
When asked about his batting position in the post-match press conference, CSK captain MS Dhoni stated that the fact that he has been out of action in a long time and the 14-day quarantine period that he had to serve were factors in his decision. However, with CSK falling short by just 16 runs, his comments are puzzling to say the least.
Even while the expensive Jaydev Unadkat and Tom Curran were bowling, Dhoni was happy to turn the strike over to Faf du Plessis, and was even on 9 off 12 balls at one point. The wicket-keeper did hit three sixes in the last over when the game was already done, and had he taken the attack to the opposition earlier, CSK could well have pulled off the impossible.
Net run rate and a desire to use the opportunity to find some form might have been the factors behind MS Dhoni's decision, and quite how his brain works is something that fans might never be able to understand. Although this does seem like a tactical mistake in hindsight, it would be foolhardy to question the cricketing mind of one of the greatest captains the game has ever seen.