Perish Of The Perennial?: CSK Mid-Season Review

Imagine the plight of a reputed sculptor who realizes that his highly proficient hands, whose pin-point precision served him for decades, have started to experience the occasional tremble. Or for that matter, a renowned singer whose charming voice mesmerized one and all for ages, now faces the dreadful prospect of turning off-key due to tremors. Yes, in life, not many scenarios are as frightful as the one in which we cognize our fading skill due to aging. And I fear that the ever consistent team – Chennai Super Kings (CSK) are caught up in a similar dilemma!

From discovering 13 Covid-19 cases to the pullout of mainstays like Suresh Raina & Harbhajan Singh, CSK’s campaign didn’t begin in earnest. However, they kicked off on a winning note and as victories do, it provided temporary relief for all the visible symptoms. Then they slipped into a 3-match losing spiral for the first time since 2014! A point of inflection was registered next only to be followed by two successive depressions, leaving their qualifying probability to hang by a thread and sowing the seed of doubt in everyone’s mind – Is This The Perish Of The Perennial?

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Suresh Raina has been the backbone of the CSK batting for over a decade!

Before dissecting the issues plaguing the team, I’ll supplement an insight of Joy Bhattacharjya which he categorically stated post the auction in December’19. With great audacity, he valued CSK to be the No.8 team if the franchise becomes devoid of the Dhoni-Fleming partnership. What appeared to be an error (or blunder to many) in his judgment back then, is the present reality albeit the duo continues to hold office. A microscopic view on the squad reveals certain deficiencies which are marring them this season. For instance, the most evident being the absence of a ‘Pack Of Power-Hitters.’ The table-toppers MI & DC are loaded with this ammunition in their arsenal (Hardik, Pollard, Krunal & Pant, Hetmyer, Stoinis) and CSK must be envying them dearly as these explosives aren’t a luxury anymore, they are the current necessities! 

Their own dynamites have appeared a bit diffused, to say the least. Jadhav’s performance & position in the playing XI – Both have been under severe scrutiny. He was ultimately swapped with debutant N. Jagadeesan but at the wrong juncture because it’s never wise to blood in a new face in crunch games. Likewise, the form of Dhoni & Jadeja has been vacillating and their astute game reading skills haven’t come to the fore. The rejigged batting lineup’s emaciated spine is another weak link and it isn’t the attribute of the teams which bid for the title. No outright quickie nor a nomad T20 league specialist – There’s dearth at the death too.

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Dhoni and Fleming have formed an enviable captain-coach pair over the ages!

‘Age’ is the reason which everyone is underlining and rightly so! I believe that the physical effect of this natural progression of life can still be tackled but not the other repercussions that come along with it. ‘Aging’ works as a host for numerous parasites like lack of creativity, stagnancy in the thought process & over-valuation of the risk factor – All of which this team is enduring. In any competitive field, the primary challenge is to stay at par with the changing times, if not ahead. A-list actors have confessed to experiencing panic attacks due to nightmarish dreams in which they hypothetically imagine themselves becoming irrelevant owing to their self-assumed outdated acting styles and thus of being thrown out from the public eye.

Over the years, CSK strategy largely revolved around playing the non-fancy way – Manage mid-160s & let the bowlers restrict the opposition or vice-versa! In this era where ridiculous scores are being churned out almost on a daily basis and that too with great ease, definitely their ‘age-old’ approach won’t yield them the desired results. They have been made to look the ebbs in this freely flowing modern game. Imperious dynasties have been ruined in a similar fashion – In the last stages of reign, the air of complacency hushedly creeps in this so-called bubble of invincibility and as we all know, the resulting downfall is nothing short of a sudden catastrophic disaster!

The CSK Team (Image Source: chennaiipl | Instagram)

This edition won’t be the end of blues for the men in yellow and it might persist for another couple of years. Change in personnel will mean the new recruits will mandate time to emulate their preceding rock-solid core. The franchise will be compulsive to pay the cost of diluting the ‘Scouting & Cultivating Raw Talent’ dimension which the likes of MI have aced. Parallels are being drawn with the miraculous edition of ‘10. A decade ago, they didn’t carry this burden of legacy and were on the cusp of writing the ‘Franchise Sport’ history books with the imperishable ink of glory! A comeback seems complicated this time around but with CSK in context, I’ll sign off with this cliche adage – Expect The Unexpected!

Featured Image: chennaiipl | Instagram

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