IPL 2020 review: End of an era for Chennai Super Kings
This was the first time that the MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings failed to make it to the playoffs in their 11 IPL seasons.
Chennai Super Kings gathered for a camp at the Chepauk stadium in Chennai before flying to the UAE. It is very likely that a couple of their players and training staff members contracted the Covid-19 virus there, which meant that CSK had to quarantine for an extra week as compared to other teams in the UAE.
This pushed back their training and preparation for the season, which meant that they still had a lot of rust when they entered IPL 2020.
Most of Chennai Super Kings' squad members like Shane Watson, Murali Vijay, Kedar Jadhav, Dwayne Bravo, Imran Tahir and MS Dhoni are not part of the national teams or have retired. With a long break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, these players in particular needed a lot of practice to get back in the groove which wasn't to be.
Crippled by absentees
Karn Sharma and Piyush Chawla, the two Indian leg spinners that CSK played, did not prove to be penetrative enough for the franchise.
Harbhajan Singh had a good season in 2019 when he picked up 16 wickets to exceed expectations. However, the veteran off spinner decided to not participate in the league this year due to personal reasons.
Same was the case with Suresh Raina who actually flew with the team to the UAE and then returned to India. As a result, Chennai really struggled with a solid Indian batsman in their top order. They ultimately had to play both Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis, which impacted the balance of their team.
Regardless of his form at the international level, Chennai Super Kings' captain MS Dhoni has been a talisman for them and has pulled off victories from the jaws of defeat, especially during chases.
This was one of the worst seasons for the former Indian captain as he finished with just 200 runs from 14 matches at an average of 25 and an ordinary strike rate of 116.27. With the final flourish not coming from Mahi's willow, Chennai struggled to close off games.
Positives and road ahead
The two big positives for Chennai were all-rounder Sam Curran and young Indian opener Ruturaj Gaikwad.
Curran was the highest wicket taker for CSK and picked up 13 wickets from as many innings, at an economy under 9 RPO. He also won Chennai a couple of matches with the bat.
Ruturaj Gaikwad finally came to his own towards the end of the tournament and became the first CSK batsman to score three consecutive half-centuries. Looks like he will be around the team for a long time.
What CSK need to do now is to rope in some young talent in the next auctions and ensure a smooth transition to the next generation.
Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni(c & wk), N Jagadeesan, Sam Curran, Ravindra Jadeja, Mitchell Santner, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Lungi Ngidi
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