CSK finds itself in a hole at the halfway mark – just two victories and five defeats.
The side needs to win six of its remaining seven matches and even then, may have to reckon with net run-rate.
From the time the side’s prolific Suresh Raina, at the pivotal No. 3, flew home because of rather mysterious ‘personal’ reasons, things have gone wrong for CSK.
Tactically, CSK has been baffling. The Chennai outfit is a side of multi-dimensional cricketers but these men are of little consequence if they surface too late in the order.
For instance, Dhoni arrived in the 15th over against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Ideally, the skipper should have surfaced at No. 3 and given himself the space, time and freedom to bat through the innings and conjure a knock of substance.
Ravindra Jadeja has been indifferent with the ball but CSK, surely, has not utilised this talented all-rounder’s immense batting ability. The southpaw needs to walk out when there are enough overs left.
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Somehow CSK, save openers Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis, has not been dishing out smart cricket. Ambati Rayudu has been charging genuinely quick bowlers and missing his shots rather than caress them with footwork and timing as he did in 2018.
N. Jagadeesan displayed some promise on debut but CSK needs some serious rethinking on its composition. Pacing of its innings has been awry, asking rate has climbed.
No space for Santner
In bowling, someone as skilful as Josh Hazlewood can swing games in Dubai where there is assistance for pacemen. Sam Curran, zestful and enthusiastic, has his limitations.
Mitchell Santner is a match-winning left-arm spinning all-rounder and he is cooling the bench.
Jadeja can play as a batsman alone and Santner can be fielded as a left-arm spinner who can give Dhoni control with his bowling and deliver the big blows with the willow. Then there is Imran Tahir, who can create the buzz on the field and lift the side with his energy; he is still the world’s best Twenty20 leg-spinner. Specialists, who come with a clear role definition, have their own advantages.
And let’s not forget this CSK side is not getting any younger.