Chennai Super Kings is one of the most, if not the best, successful franchise in the IPL history. CSK has won the IPL title four times so far, in 2010, 2011, 2018 and 2021. This edition will be only the second time when CSK will not be playing in play-offs after their poor performance in 2020. Both the seasons in which they did not qualify in play-offs were centered around the controversial exit of their major players. In this article, we will have a look at the performance of the franchise over the years, and controversy surrounding it. 

CSK Poor Performance in This IPL 2022 Season:

CSK is only second to Mumbai Indians when it comes to number of IPL titles won however CSK tops the chart for playing maximum number of finals, record 9 times out of 13 times (including this year). Surely Dhoni has been the backbone of the success of this franchise, however it was also a strong core team responsible for such tremendous success. One such player is, or just was, Suresh Raina, also known as Mr IPL for his reliability. While playing at number 3, he dominated the pitch and scored runs as per the demand of the game. Since the inception of IPL, Raina has scored more than 350 runs in every season, except two. Apart from Mr IPL, he is also known as Chinna Thala (Right hand of Master) for his loyalty and endeavors with CSK . He is also among few players who have 5000+ IPL runs from their bat. As it is said, all is well till it is not. 

Year 2020, was no less memorable due to the pandemic but CSK fans were more shocked when they heard the news of Suresh Raina backing out of the season due to personal reasons. There were rumors about Raina not being allotted the room of his choice and leaving the tournament unhappy with the team management. However, when he was asked about it in an interview, he quashed the rumors by saying he will do it again for the family if a situation arises. It is worth noting Raina had constant support of MSD, while in the Indian team and in IPL. For that reason it seems, Raina announced retirement from international cricket just hours after his Thala, MSD did the same.

Raina’s Rift with CSK Management in 2020:

In IPL 2021, Raina joined the franchise as if nothing happened however his performance was not up to the mark. Despite Raina’s rather forgetful season personally, CSK won the title thanks to Rituraj Gaikwad’s best performance of his IPL career and Lord Thakur’s 23 wickets. Before this year’s mega auction, though CSK had not retained Raina, it was expected that CSK would raise both hands for him. Raina, along with all the IPL fans, were hurt when they witnessed no franchise, more importantly CSK, bid for him. CSK did not even blink an eye towards their one of the most remarkable and loyal players even at a base price of 2 Crore. Some argued that it was the age of the player, but CSK is known for backing old players for their skills and not judging them by their age. Be it Moeen Ali, Harbhajan Singh, Ambati Raydu or spinner cum sprinter Imran Tahir . If it was performance of season 2021, then even Robin Uthappa had a forgetful season with Rajasthan Royals but was embraced by CSK for 2 crore. Apart from batting performance, Raina would have bought his amazing agility on field. He is also in the top of the charts when it comes to taking the maximum number of catches as a non-wicket keeper. 

CSK not bidding for Raina at his base price was humbling for Mr IPL to say the least. After knowing that he will not be playing for any franchise this IPL, he hopes to play in franchise leagues outside India. In a youtube video, he said “I hope that the BCCI plans something with franchise leagues that whoever player is not in contract with the BCCI, then he should be allowed to play in leagues outside India. I feel there are many quality players who can learn a lot from playing outside. Whichever league – you can allow us two leagues where the BCCI can tell us to play there since we are not in any IPL team, or in the international team,”. It is rare that a player with the stature of Raina has to take the outer route to prove his worth, if his numbers are not already visible. Raina had devoted his career to CSK after playing his part in the Indian Cricket Team and had no plan B. This former Indian finisher while explaining his situation also told, “If we play quality cricket in say CPL or Big Bash to get ready. You can see many overseas players make a comeback in their national side after IPL performances. But if we are neglected, we don’t have any plan B,”. 

Well, it was done and dusted, Raina instead of being a part of IPL from the ground, joined IPL as part of Hindi Commentary Team for Star Sports. CSK surprised its fans again by announcing Ravindra Jadeja as its new leader just before the start, retiring champion Mahi to the role of Mentor on field. Traces of this plan could be seen as the franchise retained Jadeja for 16 Crores, while Mahi got 12 Crore. In an interview, Dhoni also revealed that it was planned and informed to Jadeja well in advance he would be captaining the team season 2022 onwards. Mahi was supposed to ensure a smooth transition by mentoring him on the field for only initial matches.  However, the question remains if Jadeja was to lead the team as planned, then why announce it just two days before the beginning of the season. 

Anyway, Jadeja captained the team in 8 matches and most of which CSK lost. Apart from captaining the successful franchise and finding it at the bottom of the table mid-season, Jadeja himself was also not able to perform up to his caliber. In his recent outings as the player of Indian team, he had established himself as an all-rounder, in addition to his unparalleled fielding skills. However, in this season, Jadeja scored only 112 runs in 8 innings as captain. He was seen, which is a rare occasion in general, dropping catches, fumbling in the field and bowling expensive overs without wickets. Surely, his performance was an issue, and CSK would have wanted his star and most expensive player to play as per his bill size. The question was how to support Jadeja to perform per his talent and the answer given by up-captaining him mid-seasons. 

No goodies for predicting who would have taken the command, CSK’s evergreen Thala himself. However, the problem was bigger than captaincy alone as Dhoni also could not secure a place for the team in play-offs but Jadeja was blamed for the failure of CSK this season. After Jadeja was removed from captaincy, he was further ruled out for the remainder of IPL after playing a couple of matches. This time CSK blamed an injury, which did not seem grave on ground as per Sanjay Manjrekar, for the fate of Jadeja and extended their usual support to the player after sending him home. 

What Dhoni said about Jadeja after the Rift News:

After Dhoni took charge of CSK this season, a source close to Jadeja told insidesport “Yes he (Ravindra Jadeja) is upset & very hurt. The captaincy issue could have been handled better. Everything was too sudden, too abrupt. Any human being would get hurt by the way things shaped up”. Be it Jadeja or Raina, it is not the single event that has raised the eyebrows but joining these dots. Raina, since inception and Jadeja, recently, have been the pillars of success of CSK hence team management’s attitude towards such loyals players is abnormal. Let us hope Raina finds his way back to real cricket and there is nothing between Jadeja and CSK apart from momentary misunderstanding.

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