IPL 2024, LSG vs CSK- What If...CSK Made A Better Use Of Moeen Ali, The Bowler?

Moeen Ali for CSK [x.com]Moeen Ali for CSK [x.com]

The Lucknow Super Giants faced the Chennai Super Kings on their home ground at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana in Lucknow in the 34th match of the Indian Premier League (IPL 2024). It was a clear and dominant performance by LSG, as they won convincingly with eight wickets and an over to spare. 

The LSG skipper, KL Rahul, won the toss and opted to field first. The CSK innings struggled from the beginning, and at one stage, it looked like they would fall way short of a par total. But thanks to a stabilising partnership between Ravindra Jadeja (57 off 40) and Moeen Ali (30 off 20) and a blistering cameo by MS Dhoni (28 off 9), CSK was able to reach a fighting total of 176 runs. 

But from the very beginning of the chase, KL Rahul and Quinton de Kock looked in cruise control. They stitched a partnership of 134 runs in 15 overs and batted CSK out of the game. In the end, Nicholas Pooran and Marcus Stoinis provided the finishing touches to take LSG home with only two wickets down in the 19th over of the innings. 

Importance of Moeen Ali 

CSK made a major change in their line-up from the last game. They dropped Daryl Mitchell and included Moeen Ali in the side. Why was this change made? Let us look at it from a tactical point of view.

  • Daryl Mitchell has not been at his best in IPL 2024. In six innings, he has scored only 135 runs at a strike rate of 125. Mitchell has failed to adjust to the playing conditions in India. It would have been even more trouble for him if he had come out to bat at Ekana. Moeen Ali has played in the IPL for a long time and has experience of batting on Indian wickets. In fact, he plays spin well, thus his induction into the playing unit. 
  • Moeen Ali has an excellent record against LSG. Before this match, he had scored 54 runs against LSG in two innings with a strike rate of 154.28. He had also done wonders with the ball against LSG, picking up six wickets for 53 runs in nine overs before this game. Hence, he would have confidence coming into this game. 
  • Moeen Ali has the upper hand over KL Rahul and Quinton de Kock in T20 cricket. Before this game, he bowled eight deliveries to Rahul and dismissed him twice, conceding only ten runs (IPL). He has dismissed Quinton de Kock thrice in 23 deliveries, conceding only 20 runs in T20 cricket. Also, the fact that LSG has several left-handed batters in their line-up puts Moeen in an advantageous position in the match-ups. 

Moeen Ali, the batter, did his part in stabilising the innings in the face of a storm. But CSK used Moeen Ali, the bowler, for only one over. Even though he conceded only five runs in that over, he was never again seen on the popping crease. So, did CSK miss a trick? What if CSK made better use of Moeen Ali's bowling? 

What If... CSK used Moeen Ali, the bowler as their trump card?

After the first few overs of the LSG innings, KL Rahul and Quinton de Kock looked in cruise control of the proceedings. CSK made several bowling changes, but nothing troubled the two batters. Moeen Ali was used only in the tenth over, conceding five runs. 

But looking at the stats of Moeen Ali against Quinton de Kock and KL Rahul, they could have used three or atleast two of his overs in the powerplay. Runs were conceded even by the pacers, so if Ali gave away a few more, it would not have hurt you. Instead, if CSK played to their favourable match-up and Ali could have dismissed one of the two openers, LSG could have come under pressure. In the middle order of LSG, there was Pooran, a left-hander, and Moeen would also have the advantage. Deepak Hooda is not in the best of forms, and Marcus Stoinis is not a great player of spin bowling. Krunal Pandya, once being a left-hander, would have been an advantageous face-off for Ali. 

Altogether, the point is that if CSK had used Ali in the early overs as a trump card, it would not have hurt if he conceded a few runs, but it would have put them in the driver's seat if he picked up an early wicket. This move could have ended the game with a different result.