The Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and the Rajasthan Royals (RR) faced off yesterday in a bottom-of-the-table clash in the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL 2020). The Men in Yellow received a 7-wicket walloping at the hands of Steve Smith’s side, and they now find themselves consigned to the wooden spoon.
With 3 wins from 10 games and a net run rate of -0.463, things aren’t looking too good for CSK. An ageing squad and an inability to step on the pedal when required have cost the side dearly, with them being bogged down both in the powerplay and in the middle overs.
The change in venue from India to the UAE hasn’t done CSK many favours either. The wickets in the Middle East haven’t offered as much turn as advertised earlier, while the sweltering heat has taken its toll on the seasoned professionals who call Chepauk home.
But still, despite the precarious position MS Dhoni and CSK find themselves in, they are not mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. The captain himself and coach Stephen Fleming, however, don’t seem to be too optimistic of their chances.
Dhoni appeared to be without hope in the post-match interview yesterday after CSK’s loss to RR, and hinted at a dramatic rejig in the playing XI. Fleming, on the other hand, claimed that the team was always aware of the challenges of playing with an ageing squad, and admitted to the fact that CSK’s most important players may have run out of juice.
Will CSK go into the IPL 2020 playoffs?
If CSK win all 4 of their remaining group stage games, they are all but assured of a spot in the playoffs, provided that they significantly up their net run rate during these games.
History shows that the final team that qualifies for the playoffs generally finishes with 14 points or fewer – this has happened in all 7 seasons where only 8 teams have participated. In fact, in IPL 2019, the fourth-placed team – the Sunrisers Hyderabad – won only 6 games, and pipped the Kolkata Knight Riders to the final playoff spot owing to a superior net run rate.
This means that CSK now have 4 finals ahead of them, and a winning streak could culminate in them keeping their impeccable qualification record alive. Even if they do lose another game, they are not mathematically ruled out of the playoff race, but given that they have a negative net run rate and that IPL 2020 is one of the most competitive editions in history, it is difficult to see MS Dhoni’s men sneak through.
The four IPL 2020 games that CSK are yet to play are against the Mumbai Indians, the Royal Challengers Bangalore, the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Kings XI Punjab. Unfortunately for the 3-time IPL champions, three of these teams are comfortably placed in the top 4 and have been among the best teams in this year’s competition.
However, CSK will be boosted by their win in IPL 2020 season opener over Rohit Sharma’s side, although that game seems like eons ago given the contrasting form the two teams have showed over the past few weeks.
All in all, it’s safe to conclude that CSK have a Herculean task ahead of them if they are to make a late run to the IPL 2020 playoffs. They’ll have to play out of their skins, and it remains to be seen if the changes Dhoni and Fleming make to the playing XI bear fruit.
However, if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years in the IPL, it’s that MS Dhoni and his men can never be counted out, even if they have their backs firmly planted against the wall.
Published 20 Oct 2020, 10:58 IST
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