Why Chennai Super Kings' loss to Mumbai Indians wasn't something unexpected
The most consistent team of IPL 8, Chennai Super Kings getting thrashed by Mumbai Indians’ blue army in the IPL final wasn’t something out of the blue. Despite being the table toppers, CSK hadn’t had the weapons in their armory to beat the in-form MI. Including the final, CSK faced MI four times in the tournament and had to face crunching defeat 3 times.
In fact, CSK had trounced the mighty RCB 3 times in the tournament by restricting their explosive batting lineup for scores less than 150 all the 3 times, but MI were always a stumbling block for Dhoni’s men. Maybe because of some peculiar weakness against a particular kind of opposition or it can be asserted that the revived MI were too strong for the yellow squad to handle.
Let’s have a look at the main reasons why CSK lost to MI in the final of IPL 8.
Lack of a reliable duo
Cricket is a team game, but in T20s one or two individual performances can turn the game around. Therefore, a good team requires a consistent batsman and a reliable bowler who produces results no matter whatever the conditions are. When Simmons and Malinga did the job for MI, AB de Villiers and Mitchell Starc were so consistent with their performances for RCB. But in this season of IPL, CSK clearly lacked an in-form batsman and a reliable bowler.
Even after being the table toppers, no CSK player was there in the top 5 list of Batsmen who scored most runs in the tournament. Everyone had contributed in one match or the other, which is definitely a good thing, but no one had done it on a consistent basis. Even the ever dependable MS Dhoni and the man who has scored more than 400 runs in every IPL he played (except this one), Suresh Raina, failed with the bat on many occasions, even at crucial times.
Dwayne Bravo holds the purple cap for his 26 wickets, but I would say Malinga was the bowler of the tournament. Bravo was exceptional with his slower deliveries, but he wasn’t really threatening. He was deceiving the batsmen with his pace variations but had been clobbered for maximums whenever the batsmen were able to read his variations. While Malinga maintained an economy of 7.4 despite after a poor start, Bravo’s economy was over 8. In fact, there wasn’t any bowler in the CSK bowling lineup who could threaten the batsmen by bowling menacing yorkers at good pace just like Malinga and Starc did for their respective teams.
Hard-hitters were out of form
I think Dwayne Smith has got some problem with his hand to eye co-ordination. Raina hadn’t been in touch throughout the tournament. Dhoni’s power hitting wasn’t up to the mark. Bravo had been busy with the ball while Jadeja looks unsure of his role in the team. In fact, nobody was there to provide the acceleration in the later part of the innings. Despite the first 5-6 games, the mighty CSK batting lineup failed to put up a total above 170 even in a single game which was so unreal considering the batting strength of that CSK have on paper.
Everything seemed easy for CSK whenever McCullum fired, but nobody really stepped up to accelerate after the fall of the outrageous kiwi captain. Excellent captaincy and clever bowling pulled back the game for CSK in many occasions while their weakness remained hidden throughout the tournament. Except the pocket dynamite, Pawan Negi, and Brendon McCullum, no batsman in the CSK batting lineup maintained a strike rate over 135. In fact, most of them were having a strike rate close to 120, which is really poor compared to batsmen of other teams. When McCullum left to England, CSK clearly missed someone who has the ability to score runs at a good pace.
Poor team combination
Dhoni’s playing 11 for the entire tournament was as predictable as it could be. CSK captain never showed any intention to experiment with his available players throughout the tournament as his team was on a winning streak. Irfan Pathan had been the water-boy for CSK throughout the tournament even when Ravindra Jadeja wasn’t firing on all guns. Dhoni put too much faith in the left arm spinner despite his poor form, while a left arm seam bowling all-rounder was benched and never used properly.
the overseas quota was solely used to strengthen the batting, hence no uncapped Indian batsmen except Pawan Negi got a chance to play. This made it easier for the opposition to study the game of every player in the CSK lineup, as miraculous performances like that of Hardik Pandya and Sarfraz Khan were never bound to happen. Dhoni kept on giving chances to Smith and Faf, even though they weren’t performing to their standards.
Matt Henry and Kyle Abbot also didn’t get a single game to play, making it clear that Dhoni never used his resources properly. It’s a fact that poor team combination has also played a key role in CSK’s failures in the later part of the tournament.