Chennai Super Kings are currently on top of the table with 16 points from 12 games. With eight wins and four losses, the three-time IPL champions will be happy with the fact that they are one step closer to making the playoffs for the 10th time in their 10 appearances in the Indian Premier League. However, the numbers tell only one side of the story. Out of the four losses, two have come in the absence of MS Dhoni, their talismanic captain and the individual primarily responsible for Chennai Super Kings’ envious run in the Indian Premier League. Dhoni’s brilliant tactics, smart cricket and man-management have been the key in Chennai Super Kings making the playoffs despite fielding a far older side than the rest.
In his absence, the team has struggled primarily in the batting. As a stand-in captain, tactically, Suresh Raina has done a decent job but he has been let down in the batting which struggles for direction without Dhoni. The nature of the losses when Dhoni has not been around paints a bleak picture for Chennai Super Kings.
Consider the two losses against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians at Hyderabad and Chepauk respectively. Against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Chennai Super Kings started brilliantly but struggled for momentum in the death overs. After scoring 80 runs in 10 overs, Chennai Super Kings managed just 52 runs in the next 10 overs. The batting struggled to get the ideal finishing touches which were possible in Dhoni’s presence.
Against Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings were reduced to 66/6 in their chase of 156. It needed someone with the guile and understanding of the match situation to guide Chennai Super Kings home from this position. However, without Dhoni, Chennai Super Kings folded up for 109 and Mumbai Indians had breached the Chepauk fortress. This was Chennai Super Kings’ first loss at the venue since 2015 and this would have hurt even more as it was in front of their home fans. With this loss, Chennai Super Kings have won only one out of the five games where Dhoni was absent
It is now a fact. Without Dhoni, Chennai Super Kings are a pale shadow of their champion avatar and once he departs, it will be a struggle for the side to scale those heights.