MS Dhoni captain of Chennai Superkings during match 7 of season 13 of the Dream 11 Indian Premier League (IPL) between Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals held at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on the 25th September 2020. Photo by: Ron Gaunt / Sportzpics for BCCI
MS Dhoni, captain of Chennai Super Kings, in action against the Delhi Capitals in Season 13 of the Indian Premier League at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, UAE, on September 25, 2020. Image Credit: Ron Gaunt/Sportzpics for BCCI

The Chennai Super Kings will surely go back to the drawing board. The plans that brought down champions Mumbai Indians in the inaugural IPL 2020 game no longer work. At least that’s what the results show. And Friday’s loss to Delhi Capitals will persuade CSK to rejig their strategy.

Never mind the 44-run margin of victory, CSK weren’t outplayed. They had their moments. The bowlers did well to control the middle overs once openers Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan departed. They didn’t give too many away when a 200-plus total was a distinct possibility. Josh Hazlewood’s induction helped and Sam Curran continues to be very effective.

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Chennai did chase the target with the sort of urgency that was lacking against the Rajasthan Royals. They looked for a brisk start, but a slowing pitch and loss of early wickets stifled their chase. Here’s where they missed the strokeplay of Suresh Raina. Ambati Rayudu’s absence through injury made matters worse. The pressure told on a young Ruturaj Gaikwad. Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni could have provided stability and the thrust if he had come up the order.

Faf du Plessis played a lone hand with the help of some dropped catches. Kedhar Jadhav tried to help him, but they failed to break the shackles of spin. The climbing run rate did the rest.

CSK’s setbacks are in sharp contrast to the fortunes of the Delhi Capitals, where captain Shreyas Iyer who ran a tight game. The scare against the Kings XI Punjab seemed to have injected more clarity and purpose into their approach and execution.

Openers Shaw and Dhawan made good use of the powerplay without undue risks, and their 94-run stand even helped tide over a slump in scoring in the middle overs. There weren’t fireworks in the slogs overs, yet they made 175.

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The Capitals bowled well too. The absence of dew helped spinners Amit Mishra and Axar Patel to choke the CSK batsmen, and that allowed quickies Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje to turn up the pace at the death. Apart from some dropped catches, Delhi played a near-flawless game.

Two losses in three matches will send CSK into deep introspection. After the seven-day break, CSK will come back with a reworked combination. They will have to take a hard look at some aspects like the openers, Piyush Chawla’s role and the batting order. Hopefully, Rayudu and Dwayne Bravo will be fit to play. And that would strengthen the team and their performance.

Don’t write off CSK yet. They just have to hit the winning vein. Remember, they are three-time champions.