'We just couldn't kick off' - Gaikwad says middle-overs slowdown cost CSK against LSG

Moeen Ali and Ravindra Jadeja put on a vital 51 off 33 for CSK BCCI

Chennai Super Kings suffered their third loss in seven games going down to Lucknow Super Giants by eight wickets at the Ekana Stadium on Friday, their total of 176 not stretching the opposition. Speaking after the game, CSK captain Ruturaj Gaikwad agreed they were short on runs - by about 10-15, he said - and put it down to their middle-overs slowdown.

"I know we finished off really well - couldn't have asked for more - but I think after the powerplay, we couldn't just kick off from the start we got until the 14th or 15th over," Gaikwad said. "We kept losing wickets at regular intervals. I think [we were] 10-15 runs short."

After getting to 51 for 2 in the powerplay, CSK managed only 62 runs in the ten overs after that, losing four wickets along the way. That included a period where they went 34 balls without hitting a boundary, with one in the tenth over followed by another only in the 16th. Five out of the ten middle overs were bowled by LSG's spinners Ravi Bishnoi and Krunal Pandya. Those went for only 29 runs, and Pandya bowled a well-set Ajinkya Rahane for 36 off 24 balls and had CSK'S Impact Sub Sameer Rizvi stumped for 1.

LSG captain KL Rahul said that it was a pre-planned strategy from his side to use a mix of pace and spin in the middle overs to not allow the opposition batters to get set against "one type of bowling".

"It depends on the kind of wicket we are playing on, and the kind of batters there are [in the opposition]," Rahul said. "Obviously, there's a bit of time we spend on doing homework, [and] talking about tactics and strategies against the opposition. And yeah, that was one of our strategies: to use pace, use spin, and make sure that they don't get settled into playing one type of bowling. So [I] tried to mix it around.

"And I think credit goes to the bowlers: I can do all the changing, but if they don't execute, then all of us look stupid as a team. They executed really well. We work really hard at training, and it's good to see that the team is sticking to the plans."

Despite MS Dhoni thumping 28 not out off only nine balls and Moeen Ali hitting 30 from 20 including three successive sixes in the 18th to raise the tempo at the death, and Ravindra Jadeja playing anchor to hit 57 not out off 40, CSK's total of 176 was chased down with an over to spare. Gaikwad felt that the pitch was "slightly difficult" to score on in the first innings, and that the presence of the Impact Player meant teams need to have "maybe 20 runs extra".

"Even on these kind of pitches - I felt it was a sluggish one to start off with, with dew coming later [and the pitch] getting better - I still feel 180-190 would have been a good score," he said.

Gaikwad also said that CSK needed to strike more with the ball in the powerplay. Tonight, LSG's openers Rahul and Quinton de Kock did not let them do that, putting on 134 in 15 overs. Overall this season, CSK have taken just seven wickets in the first six overs, which is the second-least by any side behind RCB. Their bowling average of 56.85 in that phase is also the second-worst.

"[That] is the one area where we would like to improve going forward," Gaikwad said. "It really puts the opposition on the back foot if we get wickets in the powerplay - especially when we are about ten runs short - and definitely that is one area we need to work on."

CSK play LSG again on Tuesday, but this time back home in Chennai.