Chennai Super Kings lost for the fifth time in 7 games, and are tenderly hanging on to the sixth spot in the IPL 2020 points table. The MS Dhoni-led team fell to a 37-run loss against Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Dubai International Stadium on Saturday.
However, it will be foolish to write the three-time IPL champions off so early in the season. Even though CSK have lost 5 games in the tournament so far, none of them were heavy losses and, thus, they maintain a not-so-poor NRR (net run-rate) of -0.588. The 10-wicket win against Kings XI Punjab has also worked in their favour.
The 12 completed editions of the IPL suggest that winning half of the league matches while maintaining an NRR on the positive side of zero is enough for a franchise to make it through to the playoffs. Though NRR only comes into play in case of a tie, history reveals that the fourth and fifth-placed teams are most likely to end up having the same points tally.
However, such a scenario should not deter CSK’s chances of qualification because they already have a superior NRR than fourth-placed RCB. But, the MS Dhoni-led side’s primary objective should be to try and win at least 5 of their remaining 7 matches.
To put things into perspective, 3 of those games are against teams from the bottom half of the table – Sunrisers Hyderabad on October 13, Rajasthan Royals on October 19 and Kings XI Punjab on November 1.
The remaining 4 fixtures are against tougher opponents, but CSK will play table-toppers Delhi Capitals and the Mumbai Indians in Sharjah. While it will be a challenge nonetheless, the short boundaries in Sharjah seem to negate current form and, thus, put both teams on level ground.
CSK pulled off a similar heist in IPL 2010
Looking back, Chennai Super Kings will find a common link between the current IPL season and the one a decade back – they had won just 2 matches at the halfway stage. However, the MS Dhoni-led side scripted a dramatic turnaround as they won 5 of their last 7 games to earn a semi-final berth in IPL 2010.
After winning three consecutive matches against RCB, RR and MI and losing 2 of the next 3 games, CSK needed to get past Kings XI Punjab to guarantee qualification. Just when it looked like things were slipping out of their grasp, MS Dhoni took it upon himself.
With 16 runs needed off the last over, MS Dhoni (54 not out off 29 balls) went 4-2-6-6 against Irfan Pathan to seal the deal and power CSK into the semi-finals. The momentum gained from the match helped CSK go all the way and win their first IPL trophy.