When The Chennai Super Kings Were Brought Down To Earth 

Did the omission of Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh and the fact that the IPL was played in the UAE, contribute to the Chennai Super Kings downfall?

What led to the Chennai Super Kings downfall?

It is not every day that you get to witness history unfolding before you in a manner that is instantly recognisable. More often, what happens is that you look back at certain events and realise that they were significant. The 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League was unique in this regard. The “men in yellow” missed the playoffs for the first time in their coveted history. But what led to the Chennai Super Kings downfall?

There were a variety of different factors. These included preseason uncontrollables and events during IPL 2020. In this article, we will analyse them and explain how they affected CSK.

Shift from India to UAE 

Firstly, the tournament was shifted from India to the United Arab Emirates thanks to the unique circumstances presented by the Covid-19 global pandemic. This created a sense of uncertainty. In the second edition, the tournament had been staged overseas, when South Africa were hosts because of a general election in India and subsequently parts of the tournament had been staged successfully in the UAE. Despite this, the circumstances were completely different this time around. 

What would remain the same? What would change? Who would adapt best? These were the questions on the minds of fans and experts alike as the tournament got under way. What became quickly obvious was that the fortunes of the Chennai Super Kings would be the biggest change. 

 

End of an era for captain Dhoni  

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VISAKHAPATNAM, INDIA – MAY 10: MS Dhoni of the Chennai Super Kings hits out during the Indian Premier League IPL Qualifier Final match between the Delhi Capitals and the Chennai Super Kings at ACA-VDCA Stadium on May 10, 2019 in Visakhapatnam, India. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

When Mahendra Singh Dhoni announced his retirement from international cricket earlier in the year after the International Cricket Council Twenty20 World Cup was postponed, it did not come as a shock. But, the manner in which he performed for the Chennai Super Kings came as a surprise.  

This version of Dhoni was unable to pull out the big shots at the death, his signature move. Plus, more than once he got the composition of the team wrong. The ageing players Dhoni chose to do the job for him simply could not deliver. A massive factor in the Chennai Super Kings poor season and their downfall.

 

Early blow in Raina’s departure 

Suresh Raina has said that he will not be available for IPL 2020
CHENNAI, INDIA – MAY 07: Suresh Raina of the Chennai Super Kings bats during the India Premier League IPL Qualifier Final match between the Mumbai Indians and the Chennai Super Kings at M.A.Chidambaram Stadium on May 07, 2019 in Chennai, India. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

When Suresh Raina, the left-hand batsman and deputy of Dhoni withdrew from the 2020 edition of the IPL before a single ball was bowled, the entire balance of the Chennai team crumbled. Following live scores became a bit less excitingRaina, a powerhouse for India in limited-overs cricket, was an even bigger force for the Super Kings.  

If the Super Kings had reached the play-offs, or final four, in every previous edition of the tournament they had played, Raina had a major role to play. Batting at the crucial No. 3 position, Raina controlled the tempo of the innings. He seldom failed to top 500 aggregate runs in the tournament. The consistency and aggressive nature of the southpaw seemed evident to be missing in CSK’s batting line-up this season. 

 

Stumped by the conditions 

The Chennai Super Kings are especially strong at their home ground, the MA Chidambaram Stadium. But, in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, especially in the early part of the tournament, a combination of good batting surfaces and long boundaries blunted Chennai’s traditional strengths.  

The spinners could no longer give the captain the control he needed and craved as the ball did not grip the surfaces. The batsmen could not clear the ropes with regularity. This meant that big scores were an exception rather than the rule. 

 

Selection conundrum strikes as losses mounted 

HYDERABAD, INDIA – MAY 12: Imran Tahir of the Chennai Super Kings celebrates taking the wicket of Ishan Kishan of the Mumbai Indians during the Indian Premier League Final match between the the Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium on May 12, 2019 in Hyderabad, India. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Dhoni is known around the world for his ability to pick talent early and then marshall it in the best manner possible to get results. This time around, however, he succeeded in doing so only in the selection of young England left-arm seamer Tom Curran. 

Sam Curran was effervescent with the bat and the ball. He was the sole bright spark. But, the fact that Imran Tahir, who took the most wickets in the 2019 edition, did not make it to the playing eleven till the team was virtually eliminated from the running for the final four, and left-arm spin bowling allrounder Mitch Santner suffered a similar fate, left Chennai struggling. 

Watson, who had an ordinary tournament the last season, aside from one big contribution in the final, struggled once more at the top of the order. With the changes being too few and coming too late, the team slumped to defeat after defeat and eventually had to be content closer to the bottom of the pile than the top, something they are not used to. 

 

These are the crucial factors that led to the Chennai Super Kings not making it to the playoffs for the first time in their history and ultimately, their downfall.

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