4 Possible Reasons Chennai Super Kings (CSK) Is Almost Out Of The Playoff Contention In This IPL Season, What Is Going Wrong
Chennai Super Kings is the second most successful team in the Indian Premier League, with four titles to its name so far. But all has not gone well for the yellow brigade in this edition of the IPL, with the franchise currently lagging in 9th in the points table. After winning the title last year pretty comfortably, the Chennai Super Kings were expected to kick on from their good run as they always do.
But the 15th edition of the IPL has been nothing short of a nightmare for MS Dhoni and his team, which means that they probably won't make it to the playoffs for the second time in three years. After their disappointing season in 2020, where they finished 7th in the table, they stormed to the title last year, which led many to believe the 2020 season to be an aberration. But since it has happened twice in the last three years, questions will be asked of the management and the captain.
CSK did not have a good pre-season with a sudden captaincy change, which put their season in jeopardy. MS Dhoni, who led the franchise successfully for 14 years, gave up the captaincy to Ravindra Jadeja. Over a cloud of uncertainty, Chennai started the IPL and lost their first four games. While they have lost games early in the season before, this time there was no comeback of any sort.
Just when they found some momentum by picking up their first against RCB, they lost two of their next three games. Quite simply, this has been a season to forget so far for the men in yellow, and here, we take a look at some of the reasons for their disastrous title defense.
Lack Of Quality Indian Pacers
Chennai Super Kings received a huge blow just weeks before the tournament started when they found out that their lead pacer Deepak Chahar would be missing a major part of the IPL due to a back injury. Chennai was unable to retain Deepak Chahar owing to their budget constraints and eventually had to fork out ₹14 crores for the fast bowler.
He was tipped to play a key role in a bowling line-up that lacks quality Indian pacers. But his injury left Chennai's bowling plans in shambles as they had to pick unproven Indian fast bowlers like Tushar Deshpande, Mukesh Choudhary, and Simarjeet Singh.
While Mukesh Choudhary has been impressive in some games, picking up 11 wickets in 9 games, he hasn't been able to fill the void left by Chahar. Tushar Deshpande was underwhelming in the two games that he played and eventually lost his place in the side.
Apart from the Indian pacers, Chennai's overseas recruits like Chris Jordan and Adam Milne have been disappointing too. Jordan took just 2 wickets and conceded 10.52 runs per over in the 4 games that he played, while Adam Milne played only one game and was out due to injury.
Low Returns From Auction Retentions
Chennai Super Kings retained MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Ruturaj Gaikwad, and Moeen Ali ahead of the mega-auction. While the retentions seem to be good on paper, their returns haven't met expectations. In particular, the form of opening batsman Ruturaj Gaikwad has been abysmal.
The opener from Maharashtra, who won the orange cap in 2021, has completely lost his confidence after a string of low scores. In his first five innings this year, his scores read - 0, 1, 1, 16, 17. His 635 runs last year played a crucial role in Chennai's title triumph.
With Gaikwad out of form, Chennai's opening partnership has been broken very early in the innings, putting extra pressure on the middle order. Even though his form has picked up of late, it seems to be a bit too late for CSK.
Dhoni finished one game for CSK against the Mumbai Indians, but apart from that, he hasn't contributed much. Jadeja's returns have dwindled too with the added pressure of captaincy, while Moeen Ali has been injured for most of the season.
The Manner Of Losses
The Chennai Super Kings of previous seasons have been very good at chasing totals and defending them successfully. They seem to have found a way to win even in the direst of circumstances, which set them apart from other franchises. But it hasn't been that way for CSK this season, who have let slip matches that were firmly under their grasp.
The warning signs were there in the 2nd game itself, where they failed to defend a mammoth 210 against LSG. In their 4th game, GT was tottering at 87/5 after 13 overs in the chase of 170. But the Chennai bowlers once again let it slip by conceding 48 runs off the last three overs.
Not only the bowlers, but the batsmen haven't been able to finish off chases, which was the hallmark of past Chennai sides. In their game against Punjab, they couldn't chase down 188. Chennai were never in the game, to begin with, but Ambati Rayudu's 78-run assault brought CSK close. Dhoni and Jadeja were unable to finish the game as CSK fell by 12 runs. In their last against RCB, they couldn't get over the line chasing 174. Although these were some huge totals, Chennai would have fancied themselves to get them with their wealth of experience, but couldn't.
Questionable Auction Strategy And Retentions
CSK once tried to bring back their core of 2021 at the mega-auction but couldn't bring it all back. Their 4 retentions took up a major part of their auction purse and the players didn't perform well in the end. Then they probably overpaid Deepak Chahar at ₹14 crores, which meant they couldn't go all in for their other targets.
They were outbid for the likes of Faf du Plessis, Shardul Thakur, and Josh Hazlewood, who were instrumental in their last title-winning season. Hazlewood was incredible in the powerplay for them, picking up 11 wickets, while Shardul Thakur was vital at the death. Du Plessis finished as the 2nd highest run-scorer for CSK last year, highlighting his importance. CSK haven't recovered from losing their stalwarts of last season, which is one of the reasons they are second last in the table.
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