CricketIPL 2021

IPL 2020, CSK season review: Poor selections and detoriating skills of ageing veterans exposed the Dad’s army

By Aayush Kumar

Chennai Super Kings(CSK) failed to qualify for playoffs for the first time in its history. The three-times champion franchise which had secured a playoff spot in each of the 10 seasons it had featured before was the first team to be eliminated from IPL 2020.

CSK started well, winning their first match against their arch-rivals Mumbai Indians. But after their victory in the opening encounter, MS Dhoni led side could not build any momentum in their tournament as it suffered defeats in seven of it’s next ten matches and became the first team to get eliminated from IPL 2020. However, their season did end on a high as they gained a victory in their last three matches which ensured that they don’t finish on the last spot.

As we had predicted, with most of the core players either retired or past their prime and due to the lack of bench strength, the most consistent franchise in the league missed out on a top-four spot for the first time in its history.

 

What went wrong?

Batting was considered as the weakness for the franchise with most of the senior players past their prime and their deteriorating skills were exposed.

The top border’s failures hurt them in the initial stages and in the following games, the lack of run-scoring intent from their middle-order in the middle overs left too much for the middle order to get in the final few overs.

The biggest culprits were MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav as the team failed to get over the line in a few close games due to their slow knocks. Dhoni could accumulate just 200 runs in 12 innings at a strike rate of just 116.27 while Jadhav, who featured in 8 matches and batted in 5 innings, could manage only 62 runs at a strike rate of 93.93.

Shane Watson was another big star of the franchise who disappointed as he had another ordinary outing in the IPL. Watson scored 299 runs in 11 innings at a strike of 121.05, a performance which is below standard considering he occupied one of the four overseas spots in 11 out of 14 matches.

CSK’s strength in the previous season was their bowling which had ensured another good season for the franchise. But this time, even their bowlers couldn’t do amazing things as none of them finished among the top 10 wickets takers and Deepak Chahar was the only CSK bowler to have an economy of under eight, among the 8 bowlers who featured in more than three games.

The management’s decision to bench Imran Tahir, the purple cap winner of 2019, backfired as CSK’s spin attack which has always been a strength for the franchise was weakened as the Indian spinners whom the skipper trusted couldn’t repay his faith. Piyush Chawla leaked runs at 9.09 runs per over, picking up just 6 wickets in 7 games while Karn Sharma took 5 wickets in 5 matches, conceding runs at an economy of 8.68. All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who had a good tournament with the bat, was mediocre with the ball as he could bag only 6 wickets in 14 matches at an economy rate of 8.75.

The pace bowlers fared slightly better but none of them could produce any performance of great significance. Deepak Chahar, who was the third-highest wicket-taker with 22 scalps to his name in 2019, was able to pick only 12 wickets in 14 matches. His strike rate worsened from 17.59 in the previous edition to 26.00 in IPL 2020.

Chahar and other pacers like Sam Curran, Shardul Thakur and Dwayne Bravo did well in patches and even Josh Hazlewood, who featured in two games was decent but they never clicked together as a pace bowling unit and could never run through a lineup.

IPL
Sam Curran highest wicket taker for CSK in IPL 2020

 

Bright Spots

Faf Du Plessis was the only CSK batsman who finished among top 15 run-getters with 449 runs in 13 innings at a strike of 140.75, which included four 50+ scores. All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja played some important cameos and finished with 232 runs at a strike rate of 171.85, being dismissed only five times. Sam Curran was perhaps the MVP for CSK this season as he made some important contributions in both the batting and the bowling departments as he finished the tournament with 186 runs at a strike rate of 131.91 and 13 wickets at an economy rate of 8.19.

Ruturaj Gaikwad also showed some spark in the latter stages of the tournament as he ended the tournament with three consecutive match-winning half-centuries.

 

What do they need to do the next season?

If the mega auction doesn’t take place for the next season then CSK will have to find solutions to their problems from limited availability to strengthen their side. Kedar Jadhav, who was bought for a whopping 7.8 crore in 2018, has been a failed investment for the franchise and has to be released. They can also release or transfer either or both of Karn Sharma and Piyush Chawla, who failed to justify their high price tags. The veteran overseas duo of Shane Watson and Dwayne Bravo were also below par and retaining them for another season would be a huge blunder.

The playing XIs of CSK in their last three games of the season were better than those they assembled at the earlier stages. The franchise needs to bring in an explosive top-order batsman or two to add firepower to their batting line up. The franchise will also have to bring in some promising domestic talents in all the departments. In their current squad, Ruturaj Gaikwad and left-arm spinner R Sai Kishore (who didn’t feature in any match) were the only two uncapped players who have been successful in the domestic tournament. And most importantly, the management will have to make selections on the form of a player instead of one’s reputation.

 

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