Dubai: The morale-boosting eight-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore on Sunday afternoon can hardly act as a salve to the hurt pride of Chennai Super Kings, who became the first team to be knocked out of the race for a IPL play-offs berth after Rajasthan Royals stunned Mumbai Indians by eight wickets in Abu Dhabi. This will also be the first occasion when the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side could not make it to the play-offs out of the 10 IPL seasons that they participated since the league started in 2008.
The upset win over Virat Kohli’s men had kept their slim chances alive for a few hours, but it died down once Rajasthan Royals chased down a steep target to beat Mumbai later in the day.
The win over RCB took CSK to eight points from 12 matches but they can only achieve a maximum of 12 points if they win their last two games, which won’t be enough to seal a place in the play-off as the fourth team.
In the points table, Mumbai Indians, Delhi Capitals and RCB are already on 14 points with Kolkata Knight Riders at 12 with three games to go, followed by Kings XI Punjab and Royals - both on 10 points each with three and two matches left, respectively.
The exit hardly came as a surprise after the way the ‘Yellove’ campaign panned out this season - though the start was promising enough when Chennai throttled Mumbai in the opening game of the season. The franchise had, by then, overcome a bout of COVID-19 in the camp and agreed to play the first match on schedule, decided to go ahead without the services of Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh - and it promised to be business as usual for them.
Moving on, the CSK management will be surely going back to the drawing board for the next season - which is barely six months away. It’s now quite clear that Dhoni will again be at the helm of affairs - but the team management is better advised to use their posse of cricketing brains in the dugout while investing on new players rather than merely keeping their faith on the old faithfuls.
The ‘positives’ from the CSK campaign had been few and far between this year - the induction of Sam Curran being the most significant among them. A special word of appreciation is due for both Deepak Chahar and Ruturaj Gaikwad for the way they fought an attack of Covid-19 and carried on with the campaign.
One poor season is certainly not going to undo the reputation which CSK had created with amazing consistency and the policy of backing of their players to the hilt. It’s, however, for a fresh guard!