Over the years in the Indian Premier League, one thing that has remained consistent has been Chennai Super Kings qualifying for the playoffs. The three-time IPL winners are the only team to have qualified in all the ten completed editions of the IPL that they have featured in.
However, this year has seen a change in fortune for Dhoni and co, as they find themselves on the brink of an early exit from the IPL.
Having won just three games out of their first nine, CSK need to win all five of their remaining games to qualify for the playoffs with certainty, or at least four matches out of the five, leaving the rest to the outcomes of other games.
This isn't impossible by any means and has happened before in the IPL. Especially considering MS Dhoni's prowess as a captain, one cannot write off CSK until they are actually out.
With that being said, there will definitely be some players who will be key to CSK winning all their remaining games in order to make it to their 11th consecutive playoffs. Here are three such players, whose success will likely fuel CSK through.
#1) Sam Curran
The 22-year-old Englishman has had a significant role to play for the Chennai franchise. First with the ball, and more recently, with the bat as well.
Curran has picked up 10 wickets in his nine games so far and has been a real asset to the team. The recent move by CSK which saw Curran open the innings could well turn out to be a masterstroke.
He is no stranger to the role having done it for KXIP last year, in the process scoring one of the fastest half-centuries of IPL 2019.
The southpaw has always been a natural stroke maker and is potentially just one big innings away from keeping the opening spot for good.
To add to his decent bowling exploits, if the pinch-hitting role should work out well for Curran and CSK, it could go a long way in ensuring his team make the playoffs.
#2) Shane Watson
While the former Australian all-rounder has two half-centuries to his name and 277 runs under his belt, Shane Watson has not looked himself in this year's tournament.
That being said, there is no question of his ability and versatility as a batsman, and CSK would be hoping for him to turn back the clock over the next two weeks.
CSK would like nothing more than to see Watson steady the ship at the fall of the first wicket and bat through the rest of the innings.
The stylish right-hander has a huge role to play in CSK's next five games, and the franchise would be hoping he replicates his 2018 and 2019 performances for them.
#3) MS Dhoni
Last, but certainly not the least is MS Dhoni. A lot of credit for the success that CSK has enjoyed right from its inception in 2008 must rightfully go to their skipper.
From taking huge gambles that have paid off, to taking logical decisions with a calm mind while under pressure, the veteran has managed to find a way to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat time and time again.
While his captaincy would be the tipping point in CSK's 2020 story, another key aspect would be something that everyone has had in mind for a while now - his batting position.
Dhoni has batted at a considerably lower position this year, sometimes even sending bowling all-rounders like Jadeja ahead of him. One factor that could see CSK qualifying for the playoffs would be Dhoni reclaiming the No. 5 spot in the batting order.
Who will win todays IPL match, click here to find out.
Since he has primarily been successful in the No. 4 and No. 5 position, a move to promote himself up the order to these spots could help CSK get the muscle that they've been lacking towards the end of the innings.Published 18 Oct 2020, 20:46 IST