After 12 years of consistently making it to the knockouts of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Chennai Super Kings is all but certain to stay out of the tournament’s business end this year.
The ongoing season has been nothing linke before for the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led team. Their problems had begun even before the start of the tournament with a string of COVID-19 positive cases in the squad and the hasty departure of senior player Suresh Raina.
But with Dhoni and his calmness around, everyone remained optimistic. However, with 10 matches gone, CSK looks a caricature of their usual self.
Right from the team selection to the batting order to the new ball bowler, the three-times champions have failed to find the perfect balance on a regular basis this season.
With just six points from 10 matches, Dhoni’s men, in all likelihood, are heading towards their first-ever IPL where they will not be a part of the playoffs.
However, in the following paragraphs we try to find if there still remains any chance for the Yellow Army to avoid an exit before the knockout stage begins.
14 points from 10 matches have almost Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Delhi Capitals a knockout berth. Crossing 16 points is believed to be the gateaway to the last four and given RCB and Delhi’s form, both will surely go through.
It leaves us with just two slots to be filled for the last four. Looking at the table one can be almost certain that one of the remaining two will be going to Mumbai Indians.
Rohit Sharma’s men stand third with 12 points from 9 matches. They will be required to win just two out of the five matches they have. Failing to do that will be considered a collapse given that they are the most successful team in the history of IPL.
The last position is going to be the most sought-after and the fight for it is certain to go the wire. KKR, with 12 points from 10 matches, are at slightly advantageous position.
However, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab also have everything to play for as one mistake from KKR will bring them on even terms with these three teams.
Meanwhile, for CSK to achieve anything against the tide, they’ll first have to make sure that they win all of their remaining matches by big margins. Their NRR of -0.463 will have to be turned into something more than +1.
Chennai will then have to hope that Hyderabad, Kings XI Punjab, Rajasthan Royals and KKR lose most of their matches, especially the ones they will play against the top three teams.
The matches that will be played among the above-mentioned four teams will be of great concern to CSK as well. Anyone gaining extra points will be pushing Chennai further to the edge.
For example, in today’s contest between Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad, whoever come out as the winner, the one hurt most will be Chennai.
In all likelihood, CSK will be out of the playoffs this season. Even though miracles do happen on the cricket field, in this IPL Chennai will require a mathematical miracle.