MS Dhoni’s boys now have a one-week break before taking on Sunrisers Hyderabad. Coach Stephen Fleming admitted that the group will have to do “a bit of soul-searching” over the coming week and get their act together.
Here are five issues that have plagued the three-time champions:
Spinners’ form a cause for concern
CSK’s success over the years has been closely tied to their reliance on spin given the favourable conditions at Chepauk in particular. But with the pitches in the UAE being slightly different in character, Ravindra Jadeja and Piyush Chawla have so far found it difficult to make a big impact. Against both Rajasthan and Delhi, they have not only found wickets hard to come by but have also conceded too many boundaries, making it difficult for Dhoni to maintain control. “Yes, it’s an area of concern. The spinners are struggling to adjust and find the right pace to bowl through the middle overs. We need to rectify that,” said Fleming.
Not an open-and-shut case
Neither Shane Watson nor M Vijay has crossed a score of 40 so far and their highest opening partnership is 56. Simply put, CSK aren’t getting the kind of starts needed from their openers to put pressure on the opposition. Both, of course, are approaching the twilight of their careers and it seems like the long break due to the pandemic hasn’t helped their cause. With the likely return of Dwayne Bravo for the next game against Sunrisers, one of the options for CSK could be to bench Watson and make Faf du Plessis open.
Dhoni’s batting position
In the three games so far, Dhoni has faced just 31 balls as a result of coming in towards the fag end of an innings. And in the last two games, it has cost CSK as he has come in when they have been well behind the asking rate. Perhaps he doesn’t feel at his best with the bat yet, but that is all the more a reason for him to come in earlier and get his eye in. Fleming conceded that they will have to sort out the batting order.
“We are a little bit muddled with what we are doing. We are trying to find the combination where we get the best players in at the right time. To keep changing the batting order is not really our style, but we have had a go at it and will review how it’s gone,” Fleming said.
Lack of wickets in the Powerplay
While CSK bowlers did well on Friday to restrict Delhi to 175 after an opening partnership of 94 between Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan, they need to find a way to get early wickets. Too often otherwise, the CSK spinners will find themselves under pressure when introduced after the Powerplay. Deepak Chahar and Josh Hazlewood will have to make inroads with the new ball.
Rayudu’s absence a big blow
Ambati Rayudu’s 71 was the catalyst for CSK beating Mumbai Indians in the first game despite being 6/2. The last two games, which the 35-year-old has missed due to a hamstring injury, have highlighted his importance to the CSK batting unit. “We are lacking a bit of steam in our batting. Maybe the team balance will get better once Rayudu is back for the next game,” Dhoni hoped.