The Chennai Super Kings have won the IPL title four times (in 2010, 2011, 2018, and 2021), and have the highest win percentage of matches among all teams in the IPL (64.83%). They hold the records for most appearances in the playoffs (eleven) and the Final (nine) of the IPL. In addition, they have also won the Champions League Twenty20 in 2010 and 2014. The brand value of the Super Kings in 2019 is estimated to be around ₹732 crores (roughly $104 million), making them one of the most valuable IPL franchises. This show casts the success of the franchise and upholds the fact that CSK has been indeed the King of IPL.
All this seems to have changed this season as the CSK has been constantly facing defeats and are in deep trouble, struggling for just having a shot at qualifications to the playoffs. It’s shocking to see last season’s winners struggling to even a single game. There have been some major changes at the fundamental level in the team and these factors can be turned into a valid explanation for this disaster.
One of the most prominent changes can be seen in leading the team as India’s most successful captain has stepped back from the captaincy this time. Chennai Super Kings announced the appointment of Ravindra Jadeja as their captain for IPL 2022 in the place of MS Dhoni, ending the long-term ‘Thala’ era. The elevation of Jadeja to the lead role is not exactly surprising too as he has been a part of the CSK core unit for a while now. But this change has not exactly brought something positive to the team but only a shaky start. There have been instances like In the first match against the Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2022, Jadeja looked overawed and MS Dhoni did things like field placements while the all-rounder manned the outfield. The ‘shadow captaincy’ has not worked well so far for CSK. Jadeja needs to be more assertive as captain as right now he seems a deputy to Dhoni. But the younger captains like Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant and even Hardik Pandya looked confident and in charge of their teams. It seems like, Jadeja needs to take a leaf out of their book.
The management level change is not just limited to the role of captaincy but also The CSK has been served well by head coach Stephen Fleming over the years. While the Kiwi has overseen four title triumphs, the CSK is in need of a fresh perspective and edge from the think tank. Fleming can assume a more backroom role like Director or mentor and hands-on coaching can be given to someone like Mike Hussey or anyone else without sacrificing the ethos and values CSK stands for like loyalty to players.
One of the most important aspects of T20 cricket is accelerating runs in power play and middle over to gain an edge over the opponent team. But this team it seems like there’s a gap of a power hitter in CSK’s batting line-up. The CSK’s auction strategy was really confusing. They bought back players like Robin Uthappa and Ambati Rayudu but let go of someone like Faf du Plessis. Du Plessis would have given them a splendid captaincy option and would have ensured the continuation of that successful opening alliance between him and Ruturaj Gaikwad, which played a big part in CSK winning the IPL 2021. Without Faf at the other end, Ruturaj looked a pale shadow in IPL 2022 so far for Chennai Super Kings. To make matters worse, both Rayudu and Moeen Ali, who were retained, have not looked anywhere near their best and even at the best of times, they are not real power hitters who can ransack an attack from the word go. Gujarat has Hardik Pandya, Rajasthan Royals have Shimron Hetmyer, Punjab Kings have Liam Livingstone etc, the players who can bring mass destruction. But the CSK are trying to fire from a cannon when others have modern howitzers.
The Chennai Super Kings had let go of India pacer Deepak Chahar prior to the auction and then went hammer and tongs in the auction to buy him back for a whopping Rs 14 crore. But Chahar is injured and his participation in IPL 2022 is under doubt. But the real problem is not the absence of Chahar but the lack of backup. They have tried to cover the absence of Chahar with the likes of Tushar Deshpande and Mukesh Choudhary and they have not find their feet so far. Even the reserves pacers like Simarjeet Singh and Subhranshu Senapati are not looking very promising either. That Achilles heel came to the fore when Shivam Dube conceded 26 runs in the 19th over against Rajasthan Royals. Jadeja had left with no option. If indeed Chahar is not able to play in the IPL 2022, the CSK would do themselves a world of good to identify a potential replacement.
In conclusion, it seems like the kings have lost their charm to modern strategies and luck hasn’t been in much favor for the four times IPL winners. The team has to make some hard decisions and restructure its team in the next auctions to get back its crown.