IPL 2019: Chennai Super Kings keep punching above their weight but for how long?
The Chennai Super Kings have now qualified for the playoffs for the 10th time, which means that they made it to the last four every time that they have participated in the tournament so far. Unlike most other times though, the cracks in their entire squad are quite widened and visible currently.
The entire team has managed to punch above their weight, losing only three of the 13 matches in the league stage. They still are quite well poised to finish in the top two, which provides them an added advantage of playing the first qualifier match at Chepauk.
However, will they manage to sustain this brilliance in the most crucial stages of the tournament too?
Overdependence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni:
Over the years, Chennai Super Kings’ overall batting approach has aligned towards how Dhoni tends to pace his innings. They do not panic whenever they start off slowly, case in point, yesterday’s match. The team comprises of some really experienced set of players who are sane enough to not get overawed by any intimidating scenario.
However, without Dhoni, this group of players cut a very forlorn figure which must be worrisome for any captain. Chennai was comprehensively outplayed in both the matches that Dhoni did not participate in this tournament. Firstly, against Sunrisers Hyderabad, they failed to put in a decent enough total despite batting first.
They lacked the firepower and even the clarity to accelerate the pace of the innings despite being given an amazing start by Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis. In the second match without their captain, they simply failed to construct the chase against Mumbai Indians.
There looked to be not a proper game plan set whilst chasing the target, and most of the batsmen were unconvincing during their short stay on the pitch. The shot selection went awry, and no one looked to take charge of the whole situation.
As soon as Mahendra Singh Dhoni returned though, every player had a definite role and a pattern in which they approached the game. Dhoni has made it clear that he would choose to rest whenever his body demands and Chennai are surely not up for it if this dreaded situation arrives.
Chennai’s overall misfiring batting order:
Whilst Dhoni’s presence benefits both the bowlers as well as the batsmen’s outlook towards the game, his absence cannot be an excuse for the batting order’s overall inconsistency too.
Shane Watson has played well in two matches so far, but to his credit, he won his side both of those games. Mind you, he is not the Watson of old who would compensate for a bad batting performance with some scalps with the ball. Fitness issues have forced him to give pace bowling and hence his contribution with the bat becomes even more integral from the team’s perspective. Faf du Plessis was brought in midway through the tournament into the XI to add more solidarity to the batting order. He has played some stable innings, but the overall discordancy has plagued him too. Ambati Rayudu seems terribly out of confidence ever since the World Cup snub and Kedar Jadhav has actually done very little to justify his selection in the playing XI.
However, Dhoni trusts his players to come out triumphant whenever the scenario arises and Jadhav being a regular in the Indian team isn’t adverse to encountering difficult moments in the game. Good form has deserted most of the Chennai’s batsmen, but Suresh Raina’s fantastic half-century against the Delhi Capitals must have given a sigh of relief to the team management.
This is the probably the only edition of the IPL when Chennai Super King’s bowling has looked better than the batting lineup. The likes of Imran Tahir, Ravindra Jadeja, and Deepak Chahar have done the job with aplomb for the defending champions, and there is little concern in that department.
However, it is high time that batsmen other than Dhoni start stepping up their performances, as they have seemed to rely on their talisman to bail the Chennai Super Kings out from arduous circumstances most of the times this season.