Chennai Super Kings
Captain Ravindra Jadeja of the Chennai Super Kings congratulates MS Dhoni after his incredible finish against the Mumbai Indians in the Tata Indian Premier League 2022 game at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai on April 21, 2022. Chennai have struggled to two wins in seven matches this season. Image Credit: Sportzpics for IPL

The Chennai Super Kings and the Mumbai Indians have been a parody of themselves in IPL 2022. What happened to two of the most decorated teams in the history of the Indian Premier League?

Mumbai and Chennai languish at the bottom of the points table after seven games each. Mumbai have lost all the games, while Chennai won only two. It’s a far cry from the days when they used to strut around taking down fancied sides with ease.

With nine IPL titles between them in 14 seasons, Mumbai and Chennai’s squads are seen as the template for success. The teams, built around a core of fine Indian players, include high-calibre foreign stars too.

There is no chopping and changing, and players are given a rope long enough to run into form. The family atmosphere in the dressing rooms is also reported to be a key reason for their string of trophy wins.

Mumbai Indians
Riley Meredith of the Mumbai Indians celebrates after taking the wicket of Ravindra Jadeja, captain of the Chennai Super Kings in the Tata Indian Premier League 2022 game at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai on April 21, 2022. Such moments were rare for Mumbai who will crash out of the tournament. Image Credit: Sportzpics for IPL

The two teams often faced each other in the finals. All that changed in the last three years. In 2020, when COVID-19 forced IPL to relocate to the UAE, Chennai failed to make the last-four stage, but Mumbai won the title. Last year, the pandemic intervened again, and the second half of the event was hosted in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. Chennai won this time, and Mumbai didn’t make the playoffs.

This year, both teams won’t qualify for the knockout phase. So pathetic was their performance this year that they don’t deserve to be among the last four. What happened to their time-tested winning formulas?

Mumbai seemed to have lost the plot in the auction and ended up with a squad that lacked balance. More specifically, the bowling missed the cutting edge in pace and spin. And as the tournament unfolded, the batting too was found wanting.

Jofra Archer is an excellent pick, but the injured English speedster will only be available next season. There are no adequate replacements for Trent Boult, James Patterson and Nathan Coulter-Nile. Tymal Mills is at best a restrictive bowler that England employs in the slog overs, and Riley Meredith got a look in only the seventh game.

Rohit Sharma
Frustration writ large on Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma’s face during match against the Chennai Super Kings in the Tata Indian Premier League 2022 game at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai on April 21, 2022. Image Credit: Sportzpics for IPL

Leg-spinner Murugan Ashwin hasn’t been able to reprise Rahul Chahar’s role as a wicket-taker, and he was the sole spinner in most games, although Dewald Brevis turned his arm over in some matches. Till last year, Krunal Pandya’s left-arm spin had provided variety and thrust, not to mention his robust hitting.

The more significant letdown has been the batting, with skipper Rohit Sharma being one of the biggest flops along with big buy Tim David. The costly Ishan Kishan started well only to wither away, and it required Suryakumar Yadav to return from injury to prop up Mumbai. Young Tilak Varma has been the lone bright spot as Kieron Pollard failed to return to his power-hitting ways.

The Chennai Super Kings fared only marginally better. Seamer Deepak Chahar’s injury was a significant blow, and you can’t pin a team’s appalling show down to one player’s absence. The bigger setback was the change of captaincy, just days before the tournament began. Ravindra Jadeja is no MS Dhoni, and he will need time to grow into the role.

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Much of Chennai’s troubles began in the powerplay as opener Ruturaj Gaikwad searched for runs. Robin Uthappa’s vintage form helped in the two matches Chennai won. The displays of Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu and Ravindra Jadeja were patchy, while Dhoni came good only in two games, including the spectacular finish against Mumbai.

The seam attack was hobbled by the absence of Chahar, but Mukesh Choudhary was impressive with his swing. Chennai lacked a spearhead like Josh Hazlewood, who moved to the Royal Challengers Bangalore. A good leggie was also sorely missed, while Jadeja and Maheesh Theekshana lacked the consistency to turn around matches.

The season is over for Mumbai, and Chennai will need a miracle to make the last four. Their best chance lies in the next season, where Mumbai will welcome Archer. But the franchise will require more work to turn into a winning combination. Chennai are loathe to make major changes, yet they will need reinforcements in Season 16.