My Thoughts

Archive for the ‘IPL’ Category

I know that India are known to back a bowler when they think that they see some potential. The Indian team management has backed Avesh Khan an lot over the last 18 months. Avesh has played 15 T20Is during this time and has mostly looked underwhelming. He did have couple of good performances over the last few months but mostly he has failed to provide the control which India needs from their third pacer in the XI. When we look at the last 18 months Avesh Khan has played 4th most number of games for India just behind, B Kumar, H Patel and H Pandya. His 15 games have only produced 13 wickets at an average of 32 and an economy rate of 9.1.

If you look in T20 terms, 15 games is quite a high number and none of the other bowlers except for the 3 others I mentioned above have played that many games. Even in the IPL where Avesh Khan had a decent time there were others who did better than him who weren’t considered for the National side. Mohammed Shami played just 5 T20Is over the past 18 months and had better average and economy rate than Avesh but was still not considered for the Asia Cup.

When we look at the IPL 2022, there were some great Indian bowling performances. The one bowler who comes to mind immediately is Moshin Khan. Moshin played 9 games this season and took 14 wickets but what was outstanding about his performance was his economy rate of 5.96. It is incredible for a fast bowler to bowl quick and also have a low economy rate as well. It would have been great to see him bowl for India at least against Ireland and Zimbabwe to see how good he can be at the international level. Umran Malik also impressed everyone with his pace. That x-factor is what which got him into the Indian XI quicker than expected. Agreed that his first 3 games did not go well but again India need to make sure such a talent is not ignored. He had a great IPL where he picked up 22 wickets at 14.

The other bowler who India completely ignored was Umesh Yadav who also had a great IPL 2022. His economy rate was just over 7 and he picked up 16 wickets in the tournament. Umesh Yadav decided to play county cricket this year and did exceedingly well with the ball in the Royal London Cup. Agreed that Mohammed Shami hasn’t had the best of times in this format for India but again he has lots of experience in white ball cricket and has been a constant performer in IPL. He once again had a good IPL season this time around picking 20 wickets at an economy rate of 8. Khaleel Ahmed who has represented India in the past in limited overs format also had a great IPL with better stats than Avesh Khan. Now the question to be asked is whether picking Avesh Khan was a wise decision for the Asia Cup. India haven’t picked any other pacer in their main squad which means that they cannot swap him over with a replacement through the reminder of the tournament.

The signs were there through this year. I understand that Avesh Khan looks a great prospect. He can bowl quick, when he does well he picks up wickets but again those performances are rare and he most often than not gets taken for lots of runs. There is a pattern when we look at his overall stats. He played 3 ODIs for India and went for 7.74 runs in them. His List A economy rate is 5.64 and his overall T20 economy rate is 8.14. So this begs the question what was the rationale in picking him as the sole third seamer for a competition like Asia Cup?

India have moved on to the super 4 stage of the competition and it will be interesting to see if they continue to play Avesh Khan in those games as well. With Hardik Pandya back to bowling at full tilt there probably is a chance of playing Ravi Bishnoi or Ravichandran Ashwin as the third spinner in the XI instead of Avesh Khan. I feel that his performance against Hong Kong should make the management think whether they should continue to pick him in the XI for the rest of the tournament. The team management and the selectors need to realise that we are not in the 90’s where there was a dearth of fast bowlers in the country. India now boasts of great talent at the domestic level which hasn’t been properly explored. There are great bowling options available for India if they want to try them out and give them a chance. India did pick Arshdeep Singh who comparatively had a very poor IPL 2022 but again he has shown that he has the skills to succeed at this level with proper guidance.

India still has some time before the World T20 and I hope that some sense prevails and right backup pacers are picked. Australia is a tough place to bowl fast and India would need bowlers who can hit the deck and keep runs in check as well. Avesh in his limited time with the Indian team has shown that he cannot consistently provide that control. I am not saying that we should discard Avesh Khan permanently but again at this moment he isn’t the right choice for India in this format.

I am a big Virat Kohli fan and like everyone I want him to come back to form and score loads of runs for team India. Since his last hundred against Bangladesh in 2019, Virat has struggled in Tests mostly but has had decent success in other two formats until recently. The home series and the one which just concluded in England hasn’t been very kind in terms of runs for the former captain. The problem also has been that in between these poor performances, Virat hasn’t been playing too much cricket. He did play in the IPL this year though with limited success for RCB.

After another poor series against England earlier this month, Virat has once again requested for a break thereby missing the series against West Indies. Over the past year or so the Indian superstar has hardly played any international cricket or otherwise except for the IPL. This is why these constant breaks need to be taken with a pinch of salt. As a star player in the team and one of the leading players in the world a prolonged struggle for runs mean you either play as many games as you can or try to improve form in domestic cricket away from the spotlight. Virat hasn’t done either over the last couple of years.

While the reason for Cheteshwar Pujara to represent Sussex might have been due to the lack of interest from the franchises to pick him, it is at least commendable that he forced his way back into the Test XI with performances. Virat Kohli hasn’t played much domestic cricket nor has he expressed any desire to play county cricket to try and get back some form. While mental fatigue might be one of the reasons for players to lose form, Virat’s issues seems technical too. The way he has been getting out in all formats over the past couple years shows that his weakness outside off stump has returned.

I am not saying that Virat isn’t working on his chinks but again practicing in the nets can only take you that far. It will be wonderful if Virat gets back his form and starts scoring runs again as that will make India much stronger in all formats but breaks aren’t going to help him achieve that. Rohit in no uncertain terms has confirmed that Virat Kohli will be part of the Indian XIs despite his lack of runs, so we will for sure see him in the team once he is available. The question now will be how long will that rope be extended to the legend before it runs out? The question only the team management can answer or maybe they don’t have to if Virat starts scoring runs again.

The first time I saw Virat Kohli bat was in the 2008 ODI series against Sri Lanka. A series made famous by Ajantha Mendis who tormented the Indian team throughout that tour. Virat was pushed to open the batting with Gautam Gambhir in the absence of the seniors and as a 19 year old playing on some unusually bowling friendly conditions he showed a lot of composure. Since then Virat was marked for greatness and for the next decade he did not disappoint.

Virat had to wait a year before he became a permanent fixture in the Limited Overs format but he had to wait a little longer in Tests. His breakthrough series came in Australia in 2011/12 after a poor outing in West Indies in 2011. Virat even at a very young age came across as someone who always wanted to succeed. He was aggressive and mentally strong, a product of that time in a team which was lead by MS Dhoni.

In just couple of years he Virat became the leader of the new age Indian Test middle order post the retirement of the greats. Him along with Pujara and Rahane became the face of Indian batting for the next decade. Virat loved Test cricket and he did not shy away from making that known to everyone. From the time he took over the captaincy from MS Dhoni in the middle of the 2015 series against Australia he always wanted to make India a force in the format. He started to work on his fitness thereby inspiring the next generation of Indian cricketers and brought about the change in the mindset of the team.

His confidence in the pace bowlers meant that India went from a bunch of spray guns to bowlers who could hunt in pairs and make life difficult for the opposition. After the 2015 Australian series, Virat asked his bowlers to watch Josh Hazlewood who not only bowled economically but also ended up with the best average among pacers in the series. Virat always had the hunger to keep improving himself and you could see that in his preparation. After his disastrous 2014 tour of England, he made it a point that he wouldn’t do the same mistake when he toured again in 2018.

From that series in Australia in 2012 till 2019 November (Month of his last international hundred) Virat scored more international runs than any other player in the world. His 17872 runs were scored at 60.99 with an incredible 62 tons. He not only became the best all-format batter at that time but also transformed the Indian Test team into number 1 team in the world. The Indian pace attack became the best in the world and Indian became the flagbearer for Test cricket.

But again when things were going brilliantly for Virat the batsman & the captain, things took a turn after the home series against Bangladesh in 2019. Virat’s batting form started to dip and while India continued to be a good Test side the collective failures of the experienced middle order became the topic of discussion. Virat is yet to score a hundred in any format since November 2019 his 2478 international runs during that time came at 37 with no centuries. His ODI & Test form were the most affected while his T20I record still remained good.

His dip in form meant that Virat also relinquished his Test captaincy after the series loss in South Africa earlier this year, this also meant that he was forced out of the LOI leadership as well. Virat has always been this fighter who always proved his doubters wrong but this time it does feel that he probably lost that hunger to improve. His weakness outside offstump which he fought so hard to improve upon after that 2014 series in England has returned and this time it has started to affect his limited overs batting as well.

His performance in this ongoing IPL further highlights his struggles. He has struggled to score runs this season and when did score, he has struggled to maintain a good strike rate. He has had 3 first ball dismissals this season as well which hasn’t happened ever in his career. The year 2022 is an important one for India and with the T20 world cup around the corner, India would need Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma to be in good form with the bat to guide a young team.

Virat still has at least 2-3 years of cricket left in him but I do expect him to retire at least from one format soon. His Test record has taken the most hit and with his average dropping below 50, couple more failures in the upcoming season might see him bid adieu to the format. It will be sad if Virat isn’t able to turn this form around to finish his career with an average of 50+ which he so deserves.

Virat did have a spark at the end of the the IPL with a match winning 70 odd in a must win game for the RCB but again there wasn’t much else after that. While as fans we would love for him to get back to his pomp but again it will all depend of what Virat Kohli wants from his career here on in. It will be disappointing if Virat hangs up his boots without 10K Test runs at 50+ average, so the hope is that he will be able to have that one last dash towards greatness.

Wicket-Keeping is a crucial component in a Test team. There is a reason why teams don’t compromise on quality of keeping in Tests as opposed to the shorter formats. While all Test teams have decent to good wicket-Keeping batsmen, India have struggled to find one since the retirement of the legendary MS Dhoni.

The Test keeping spot for India has been quite a game of musical chairs between Wriddhiman Saha amd Rishabh Pant. While Saha is the better keeper of the two his batting has been less than inspiring and hasn’t been of Test quality. Gone are the days when Test teams select a wicket keeper for just their good glove work. Almost every Test side in the world now has a wicket keeper who can bat really well. For India it has been a dilemma at least in the Test arena as while Rishabh Pant is an exciting bat his keeping against especially spin is lot left to be desired.

Pant has already dropped 4 chances in the Test and a half he has kept wickets in the ongoing series and things haven’t changed much since the last time he was dropped. Saha on the the other hand is known for his excellent glove work but again age isn’t on his side and his batting has dipped to a level of not being of international standard. The Indian team though over the last 5 years since the retirement of MS Dhoni from this format haven’t tried any other options which makes it very difficult to come up with a replacement immediately.

The Indian management and the selection committee need to dig deeper into the domestic system to bring out a good wicket-keeping batter for Tests. Indian domestic system has 30+ FC teams and it is hard to believe that they cannot find one wicket-keeper who can keep better than Pant and can score runs as well. While Pant is a good batter his glove work needs lots of work and international cricket isn’t the place to learn your trade. Parthiv Patel another youngster who had a brilliant Test series down under in 2003/04 was dropped because of his poor keeping which cost India a series win. Rishabh Pant despite his mouthwatering stroke play needs to spend more time in domestic cricket and work with coaches to improve his glove work if he wants to represent India has a Test wicket keeper.

The problem for India is that even when we look at the IPL squads except for Sanju Samson and Ishan Kishan there aren’t many promising young keepers in any of the franchises. Most teams have an overseas wicket-keeper which isn’t helping much with unearthing talent for Indian team. While I am not suggesting we pick a Test wicket keeper based on IPL performance, we at least would have some idea about their skills with the glove in a high pressure tournament.

Right now in the ongoing series India do not have many options but in the future though the selectors need to think about giving opportunities to other young keepers in the domestic system. India will soon be playing at home where keeping against Ravi Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja will be crucial and they cannot have Rishabh Pant in the current form to be doing that. Going back to Saha will be a step back as well. If India wants to be a force in Test cricket they need a keeper who makes less mistakes and is reliable behind the wicket and at the moment Rishabh Pant is not that.

We are in the final week of the round robin stage of IPL2020 and the playoff spots are still up for grabs. Mumbai Indians with 16 points are almost in but again they would feel safe with another win under their belt. The fantastic thing about this season is that all the teams except for Chennai Super Kings have an outside chance of making the playoffs. Kings XI Punjab who looked like being down and out after first 7 games have made an incredible comeback winning 5 games on the bounce to become one of the top contenders for the playoff spot. Kolkata Knight Riders have had a mixed tournament. They surely haven’t been consistent but again they have done enough to keep themselves in the race.

Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals though have been hanging by a thread and possibly have an outside chance of making it if they win both their games and other results go their way. The two top teams of this years IPL Royal Challenges Bangalore and Delhi Capitals though have seen their season take turn for the worse in the latter part of the tournament. DC who have been brilliant in this years tournament have had very poor last few games. They have not only been losing but the losses have been heavy as well. Their 88 run loss to SRH has given the latter a lot of hope but has dented DC’s NRR pretty badly. RCB who have been very consistent in this years IPL have now lost two games in a row making their qualification path slightly more complicated.

This season has been extremely competitive and the most dangerous team in the coming days is going to be CSK. The men in yellow have nothing to lose and they would want to end the season on a high. The next few days is going to be crucial for all the sides in the competition. While the top 3 sides want to finally confirm their playoff spots, the rest of the 4 are battling to topple one of them into the playoffs as well.

DC and RCB have been brilliant this season but their recent reversal in results would have surely caused some jitters in their camp. Both these teams have been in these situations in the past an they surely would want to avoid that from happening again this season. RR and SRH who at max can reach 14 points would not only want to win their remaining games but would also want to improve their NRR as there is bound to be tie at number 4 in the table.

This years IPL in the UAE has been exciting and close and the final week is no different. With as many as 7 teams in the running for 4 spots, the tournament has been one of the best in history of IPL. All the teams would want to make one last push towards the playoff spots and it will be interesting to see who gets there.

Every time an Indian national squad is announced there is always controversy. Fans and experts alike question selections, express disappointment over someone missing out and there is conspiracy theories always floating around. The three squads announced for the Australian tour wasn’t immune to that either. But again the T20I squad garnered the most criticism. Lets look at the T20 squad and analyse the “Controversial”
picks in more detail.

Team India T20I squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul (vice-captain and wicket-keeper), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Sanju Samson (wicket-keeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd. Shami, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, Varun Chakravarthy

The T20I squad garnered the most criticism and critique from the fans and experts alike. The biggest controversy or mystery is the omission of Rohit Sharma. Rohit has been absent from the Mumbai Indians playing XI for the past 3 games and also I am sure BCCI would have consulted the franchise medical staff before making the call. There is no way BCCI would omit their star limited overs player with hearsay or half baked information. There is a reason why Rohit hasn’t been picked for the tour. The fact that MI posted on social media about Rohit practicing after squad announcement is highly unprofessional as despite that he did not partake in an important clash against RCB last night. Considering there isn’t much time between the end of IPL and the beginning of the Australian tour, I feel the call was right.

The next controversy was with the omission of Rishabh Pant from the T20I side. I am a big fan of Rishabh but again I need to be objective about a player. Yes he is brilliant and yes he is very talented but lets look at his numbers just to stay little fair on the players picked. Pant has played 28 T20Is for India and has an average of 20 at a SR of 121. Not earth shattering numbers by any means. His IPL season this year so far has been mixed bag. He hasn’t been his belligerent best and has shown lack of form over the last year or so. Sanju Samson got a lot of criticism from experts for his lack of good FC scores but again we are talking about T20 games. Yes Sanju himself isn’t the most consistent or reliable but when Pant was given 28 games to prove himself, I feel we can at least give Samson 3 more games to show his mettle.

The other contentious spot in the squad was the selection of Varun Chakravarthy. Yes Varun is a reasonably unknown commodity and not many people rate him as a spinner. He has had a great season so far for KKR but again the argument is that there are better spinners available than Varun in India. Fair enough, the only other player who I thought could have been picked is Kuldeep Yadav as he has brilliant T20 numbers but again his bowling has been on the decline in LO formats over the last 18 months. Yes there is Ravi Bishnoi and Rahul Chahar but again I don’t see selection of a young spinner is that bad as it is made to be. It does seem like the selectors have picked him based on his IPL2020 performance but again that’s fine as both spinners I mentioned above is a future star and will be picked soon in the Indian XI. Yes Varun might not be the best spinner in India but again his selection isn’t as bad as it is made out to be. Krunal Pandya and Axar Patel compete directly with Ravindra Jadeja and Washington Sundar. They both are bowling all-rounders and Varun has been picked as a specialist bowler. Sundar and Jadeja have been very good in shorter formats and their bowling this IPL has been brilliant as well. Jadeja especially has been batting brilliantly for CSK. So I don’t see any controversy in their selection.

The one player who even I though should have been in the T20I squad is Suryakumar Yadav. He has been brilliant in IPL for years and it is strange that he does not get picked for the national side. He once again proved last night how amazing he is in this format and I hope that the selectors give him a chance soon in both the LO format. He is a deserving player and should have been part of this squad to Australia.

This is just a 16 member squad and not everyone can get into the XI. There have been few people preferred over the other and while we can argue the merit of others who haven’t been picked, we cannot deny the talent of the people who are in the squad. The rest of the squad is on the expected lines except for the return of Shikhar Dhawan at the top and the addition of Mayank Agarwal in T20 after his brilliant season for KXIP this year so far.

Overall I feel that even though the T20I squad hasn’t impressed everyone, the selectors haven’t done a horrible job as it is made out to be. They have picked the best available players on merit and I don’t see this as a disaster. Everyone might feel someone someone else would have been a better choice in the squad but again that would be in the hindsight.

Chennai Super Kings haven’t had the greatest of seasons so far. With just 3 wins from 9 games their chances of getting to the playoffs is thinning with every loss. Their loss against Delhi Capitals over the weekend was a must win game to keep their confidence going but again despite putting up a good total their bowling and fielding let that chance slip.

While Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab kept their hopes alive with a moral boosting win, they also put a lot of pressure on CSK and Rajasthan Royals. CSK not only lost the game against Delhi Capitals, they also lost their star all-rounder Dwayne Bravo to injury. Losing him mid game and having to bowl Ravindra Jadeja in the final over cost them dearly. This would also mean that they would have to change their team combination once again. CSK haven’t been able to field a settled combination so far this season and Bravo’s absence is not going to be easy.

The middle order batting options isn’t something which is abundant in CSK’s arsenal. They only have Kedar Jadhav and Narayan Jagadeesan in their squad to fill that slot. The other decision they need to make is between Josh Hazlewood and Lungi Ngidi. Kedhar Jadhav had a poor IPL and was a regular for CSK in the first few games. He isn’t bowling anymore which means that he needs to play only as a batter in the XI. He really struggled with the bat this season and him not being the fastest mover on the field might weigh heavy in the decision making process. Jagadeesan played only one game for CSK and scored 30 odd, it would be unfair to not give him another chance in the XI.

The other option Dhoni & Co have is playing an extra spinner in Piyush Chawla in place of Bravo which also might be one of the discussion points. The other pickle CSK have is that with Bravo missing they need to plug their death bowling void. Bravo and Shardul Thakur did that for CSK in the last few games and with the former injured they need to decide between Hazlewood and Ngidi for that spot. Ngidi does seem the natural choice but again Hazlewood provides CSK with wickets with the new ball. It will be a tough call for the team management ahead of their all important game against Rajasthan Royals.

Making change to the playing XI is always tough but doing it when you are not particularly performing well as a team is even more difficult. CSK will know that any more slip up would mean that their chances of making it to the final four will almost be over. This is a must win the pressure is enormous on MS Dhoni and Stephen Fleming.

My Playing XI:

Sam Curran, Faf Du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, N Jagadeesan/Piyush Chawla, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Karn Sharma, Lungi Ngidi

The IPL has just reached it’s half way mark and this is when the tournament starts to get interesting. There are always a few teams clubbed together on the points table with very less margin for error. Rajasthan Royals are one such team who are involved in a mid table scrum with few other teams in the tournament. With 3 wins and 5 losses, RR are still very much in the hunt for a spot in the playoffs but again they would need to fix their batting order confusion before it is too late.

RR started the tournament with Yashasvi Jaiswal opening the batting with captain Steven Smith in the absence of Jos Buttler. Once Buttler returned Jaiswal wasn’t picked anymore until later with Steven Smith opening the batting in the first few games. All this while they had a solid experienced opener Robin Uthappa in the XI playing in the middle order. RR have been all over the place with their batting order. They haven’t been able to be consistent with the batting order which means that none of their batters are settled in a particular batting position. Steven Smith himself has moved around quite a bit and so did Sanju Samson.

Ben Stokes who returned to RR mid tournament found himself opening the batting out of nowhere in his very first game. Stokes as well all know is a brilliant middle order bat for England in limited overs format. He has done brilliantly as a finisher for England in all formats and has been brilliant for them in positions 5 and 6. Ben Stokes has so far played 121 LO games and he hasn’t opened one in those number of games. His strongest position has been number 5 for England and it is hard to understand the rationale behind sending him to open the batting by the RR team management.

Rajasthan Royals do have issues with the middle order where they for sure lack experience and Ben Stokes coming in at number 5 would be the ideal scenario for their team. They have young Riyan Parag and Rahul Tewatia batting lower down the order and having Stokes guiding them would mean they would finish more games successfully. Robin Uthappa at number 5 hasn’t been working for RR but again him at the top of the order would give the perfect balance to the batting order. Uthappa has been Indian ODI opener and has opened successfully for KKR for years and it boggles my mind why RR would keep him lower down the order.

Uthappa not only has the shots to score quickly, he can drop anchor and bat through if Buttler gets going as well. This would mean Steven Smith, Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Riyan Parag, Rahul Tewatia would make a brilliant middle order for RR. Rajasthan Royals have toyed with that opening spot since the start of the tournament and they haven’t been able to settle on the same yet. Ben Stokes did score 41 in last nights game but again RR did lose the match in the end as they lacked experienced finisher at 5 or 6. Stokes value to RR would surely be in the middle order and not at the top. RR don’t have much room for mistake anymore and they have reached a point in the tournament where every game is almost a must win. They would have to settle their batting order soon and if they do that consistency in results will follow.

Right batting order for RR:

Jos Buttler, Robin Uthappa, Steven Smith, Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Riyan Parag, Rahul Tewatia, Shreyas Gopal, Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat, Kartik Tyagi

Royal Challengers Bangalore were one of the most expensive teams in the IPL when the league was formed in 2008. The team has always been one of the most hyped teams in the league and always boasted of prime stars from around the world. Even though they have always been a strong side, title success has evaded RCB till now. The biggest problem for RCB over the years have been their lack of clarity in selection.

This season though starting with the auctions last year there seems to be clarity in thinking from the RCB management. Their squad as usual is brilliant this year as well but the major difference right selection of personnel according to what they were missing. For example over the last few seasons RCB were struggling with the opening combination and their selection of Devdutt Padikkal and Aaron Finch has plugged that gap. This also meant that Virat Kohli can play in his regular number 3 spot and does not have to open the innings. They also picked up the talented Adam Zampa as the spin bowling backup and all-rounder Chris Morris after a bidding war in the last years auction. Morris who has been in amazing form with the ball in the two games he has played so far has ended their pace bowling worries.

The most important thing this season has also been their consistency in selection of the XI. They did play around with few positions which lots of teams have to do in the initial part of the season but again they seem to have identified their core pretty soon this year. Their top order looks set and the bowling attack of Chris Morris, Navdeep Saini, Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal are almost certain to carry on. This means that Virat Kohli can play around with the rest of the positions and move players in and out knowing very well that they have a settled core who are performing brilliantly so far.

Virat Kohli himself returning to form was the final piece in the puzzle. RCB always rely on Virat and AB De Villiers to provide them with consistent runs and the former’s lack of form at the start of the season was a worry for the management. Virat though the champion that he is has returned to his best over the last few games and is looking in great touch now and with ABD firing as well RCB seem to have peaked at the right time. The tournament is just at the half way stage and with 10 points in 7 games, it will be hard to bet against RCB reaching the playoffs. They have a fantastic group of players who are all performing together in unison and who knows this might finally be the year where they break their title drought.

Chennai Super Kings have had a horrible start to IPL2020 with just 2 wins in 7 games. This is not the first time the men in yellow have found themselves in such a quagmire. They were in similar situation in 2010 as well. That time though they won 5 out of their next 7, reached the playoffs and then eventually beat Mumbai Indians in the finals to win their first IPL title. The biggest difference between then and now is not only the personnel but also the will to pull off such a heist again.

CSK of 2010 was a brilliant team. They had a brilliant opening pair of Matthew Hayden and Murali Vijay. Vijay during the initial seasons was a brilliant player for CSK who scored couple of hundreds for them in the tournament. They also had a firing Suresh Raina who had another 500+ run season. They had Subramaniam Badrinath who scored 350 runs at 32 and held the middle order for the team and the captain himself who was in amazing form.

The bowling attack in 2010 had the brilliant Doug Bollinger who was hard to get away. They also had Muttaih Muralitharan who had a brilliant season with the ball. Ravichandran Ashwin had a breakthrough year for CSK which propelled his ascent to the national team in the same year. All-Rounder Albie Morkel and Shadab Jakati all had brilliant years with the ball. The team was firing after the initial setback and had a captain who was fresh, fit and was motivating to a team which knew how to win.

The CSK team in 2020 isn’t anywhere near the ability the team of 2010 had. First of all there is no Suresh Raina who most often than not ends up scoring 500 runs in a season for CSK. They don’t have a solid middle order which CSK had in the initial seasons of the tournament. They also don’t have a bowling attack which quite as varied and potent as the 2010 attack was. The biggest issue for CSK this season other than the age of the squad is a jaded and tired MS Dhoni. The biggest talisman for CSK over the years has been their captain “Thala” Dhoni. When the season started this year question marks were raised as to how would Dhoni perform after not having played for a long time.

Even though CSK had a dream start to the season beating MI in the first game, when Dhoni pushed himself below everyone in the order, the answer was there for everyone to see. The MS Dhoni we knew would have walked out after Rayudu’s dismissal to finish the game of himself but he sent Jadeja and Sam Curran ahead of him. When he was struggling to bat in the game against SRH it was evident that the man is strategically and physically not in his best shape to guide this team anymore.

The planning before the start of the tournament wasn’t there and CSK did not bid for many young Indian cricketers in the auction last year. With a thin batting which does not have much wiggle room, CSK decided to invest more on the bowling. The strategy which did not make sense even during that time. While Riyan Parag, Devdutt Padikkal and Priyam Garg all are looking good for their respective franchise, CSK haven’t been consistent with Ruturaj Gaikwad in the playing XI. They finally gave a chance to Jagadeesan last game but again strategically playing another wicketkeeper in the XI and making him field in the outfield was poor. Jagadeesan dropped a catch and I don’t blame him as I am not sure how often he has had to do that.

Chennai Super Kings have a great legacy in IPL. They are the only team to reach the playoffs in all the seasons they have been part of. A streak which seems to be coming to an end this season. In all probability this might be MS Dhoni’s last season as a player for CSK and I hope that the team has a little bit gas left in the tank to make one final push. They might not be able to win the title but they would want to end the season with some good performances. CSK still are mathematically in this tournament but the question is whether they have the will to fight once again with their backs to the wall. It is not going to be easy but if there is one team who can fight the odds it is CSK.


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