All good runs eventually end and, so it did for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) after it failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons.
Going into this season, it was always going to be a tough task for an ageing side.
It did not help that the tournament moved to UAE and neutralised its home advantage – something the team always used to good effect winning five out seven more often than not.
Once the team landed in the UAE, it suffered another blow when members of the CSK contingent including, players Ruturaj Gaikwad and Deepak Chahar tested positive for Covid-19.
It meant the team’s training programme went for a toss as it had to start its preparations later following a lengthy quarantine period.
With just six wins from 14 games, it might seem that the team could have made it through to the playoffs with a just one more win. However, the final result flatters its competitiveness or rather the lack of it, as it won three of those six games after it was knocked out of the event when there was little pressure.
So how did the runner-up from last year, who lost by a run in the final, fell so drastically?
The answer lies in the fact that the team’s batting unit failed spectacularly. The batsmen, barring Faf du Plessis (449 runs), neither got the runs nor scored at a brisk rate which led to some crushing defeats in the first ten matches.
The middle-order of MS Dhoni, Ambati Rayudu and Kedar Jadhav struggled to score. It was even more evident during chases as they ate up deliveries and left too many for the lower order of Sam Curran and Ravindra Jadeja.
The problem also was accentuated by the departure of Suresh Raina before the tournament, who has been the batting mainstay for the team over the years.
The knockdown effect of this was that the team couldn’t get the right balance and was not able to play one of its overseas frontline bowlers as the team had to shore up the batting.
Going forward, both skipper Dhoni and coach Stephen Fleming have indicated that it is time to build a new team with a younger crop of players for the next few years.