The Chennai Super Kings’ journey in IPL 2020 ended with a sublime victory over Kings XI Punjab at Abu Dhabi on Sunday. It was CSK’s third win in a row, but it came too late as MS Dhoni’s men had already been knocked out of the tournament.
It has been a historic development in the sense that Chennai has made it to the playoffs every time they featured in the IPL until 2020. With merely six wins and eight losses, the Chennai Super Kings are currently in seventh place on the points table.
Where they finish eventually will be clear after the Sunrisers Hyderabad’s last league encounter against the Mumbai Indians. In the wake of the Chennai Super Kings' early exit from IPL 2020, we look back at what went wrong for the three-time IPL winners.
One year too many for Watson, Jadhav and Vijay
The Daddies Army tag has been a source of inspiration for the Chennai Super Kings to prove their detractors wrong year after year. However, 2020 has been a strange year, and the unexpected had to inevitably happen.
In the wake of what has transpired this year, the Chennai Super Kings extended the contracts of older players like Shane Watson, Murali Vijay and Kedar Jadhav for an ‘additional’ year.
Watson turned back the clock with a couple of brutal fifties, but overall, he struggled in IPL 2020 and his strike rate of 121.05 is proof of that. While Watson delivered on a couple of occasions, Jadhav and Vijay had horrendous runs in this year's IPL, to say the least.
The former managed merely 62 runs from eight games at a strike rate of 93.93 for the Chennai Super Kings, which is just not good enough. Opener Vijay fared even worse with 32 runs from three innings at a sub-par strike rate of 74.41.
Having cricketers who were well past their prime in the playing XI proved disastrous for the Chennai Super Kings and was one of the chief reasons behind their early exit from the IPL.
MS Dhoni has confirmed that he will be back with CSK in 2021, and the franchise has stated that ‘Thala’ will be their skipper next season as well. But, for the Chennai Super Kings and Dhoni’s sake, both sides will fare better if they review this arrangement.
As a batsman as well as a skipper, Dhoni seems to have lost his Midas touch. The 39-year-old, who announced his decision to retire from international cricket earlier this year, hadn't played the sport at the top level since India’s exit from the 2020 World Cup.
Dhoni's lack of match practice was evident during IPL 2020 as he clearly looked rusty. In 14 matches, Dhoni could only stitch together 200 runs at a snail-paced strike rate of 116.27.
It is hard to watch Dhoni struggle to time the ball and genuine fans would like to remember Dhoni as the man who took India to a World Cup victory. They will not want to remember him as someone who was trolled brutally on social media for his inability to score at a decent pace.
Even as a leader, MSD’s decision-making left a lot to be desired.
The constant opportunities he handed out to the likes of Jadhav and Vijay, despite them obviously not being good enough, raised questions over his ability to choose the best team for the Chennai Super Kings. His controversial statement that ‘youngsters had not shown spark’ was also not a smart move.
The absence of prolific Suresh Raina
Even before IPL 2020 kicked off, the Chennai Super Kings were dealt with a body blow as their talisman Suresh Raina pulled out of the tournament citing personal reasons. With 5368 runs from 193 games, the southpaw is the second-highest run scorer in the history of the IPL and an important part of the team.
Year after year, Raina has smashed gallons of runs for the franchise. He has not scored under 300 runs in any edition of the IPL. That statistic shows Raina’s value to the Chennai Super Kings and the side suffered in his absence.
A peek at the future
Although CSK had a forgettable IPL 2020, a couple of youngsters raised their hands and made a statement with their performances.
Perhaps unimpressed with his skipper's ‘youngsters lack spark’ comment, 23-year-old Ruturaj Gaikwad reacted to his poor performances early in the IPL to finish the tournament with three consecutive fifties. Gaikwad showed maturity while getting his team over the finish line by remaining unbeaten twice.
England all-rounder Sam Curran reiterated why he is rated so highly with his performers in the year's IPL. Asked to perform varied roles, from opening the innings to getting quick runs in the slog overs, Curran excelled under pressure.
His 186 runs from 141 balls came during high-quality innings and were mostly scored with the Chennai Super Kings under pressure. With his left-arm medium pace, he chipped in with 13 scalps at a strike rate of under 20. Curran is a future leader in the making for CSK.