Mumbai: One of the most successful and consistent teams in the history of the Indian Premier League, Chennai Super Kings, appeared to have given up hopes of turning their current season around after their seventh loss in 10 matches on Monday.
Led by former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Chennai have reached the playoffs in every edition they have played in the Twenty20 tournament, which is being held in the United Arab Emirates this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The side, who were banned for two years due to an illegal betting scandal, have lifted the trophy three times and reached the final on five other occasions.
But with four league-stage matches left, Chennai are bottom of the table and have very slim hopes of making the playoffs.
The team have been criticised for continuing with their aged players despite the poor run but that could change for the remainder of the tournament.
"This season, we were not really there," the 39-year-old Dhoni, who played his 200th match in the IPL on Monday, said during the presentation following his team's seven-wicket thrashing by Steve Smith's Rajasthan Royals.
"There were a few chances to the youngsters and maybe we didn't see the kind of spark that they could have given us to say, okay, push (out) the experienced guy and maybe make some space for them.
"Today, the result, what it really does is give those guys whatever is left in our league stages, they will get a chance and they will have no real pressure on them. They can go out and express themselves." Chennai did not have an ideal pre-season when many people from their touring party tested positive for the novel coronavirus upon arriving in the UAE, and experienced players like Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh withdrew due to personal reasons.
"It's fair to say looking at the table now that this team may have run out of juice," said Chennai coach Stephen Fleming, adding that the mood in the camp was "pretty down".