A big blow for Chennai Super Kings as IPL-13 turns unlucky
From Heroes to Zeroes, that has been the unbelievable fate of Chennai Super Kings in this year's edition of the IPL. After all the attention that the team had received over the years and specially prior to the latest edition, what unfolded in the Emirates was a huge anti-climax for the vast number of fans that this Chennai side led by that evergreen M.S. Dhoni, had In fact it was the presence of Dhoni that lent lot more spotlight on CSK because after all the months of uncertainty on his future with the Indian side, he set all that to rest with his sudden announcement of retirement just days before the current IPL So did that mean he had a message for his legion of fans to watch out in the Gulf or an answer to all his doubting critics on his famous abilities, seemed to be the exciting queries.
Having decided to take the load of the India duty prospects off his head, there was a general feeling Dhoni would play with a lot more freedom and to that extent add spice to the CSK's campaign, which has been the subject of envy and why not! Having won the title three times and not missed the playoffs in all its participating years, CSK had a special place in the IPL history. Only, it got blotted a bit after its latest showing leading to an early exit.
How fickle can the look of a team be! Considered a champion outfit once, suddenly it gets labelled as an ageing side, a Dad's army as they say, with enough missiles already directed at a few players. It would seem from the criticism that it was the performance of a few players that finally undid CSK! It could be true but just imagine how soon the performance-history of these same players had become a forgotten subject. Even Dhoni, who now is facing the tough task of explaining away his team's low-key show, himself looked a shadow of the great and irresistible player he was. How many times has he shored up CSK innings in the past with his magic with the bat, one would lose count. But the way he prodded and missed the line of the ball repeatedly made for a shocking sight in the Emirates.
True he did send a few balls sailing over the stadium but seemed a starter when the feeling was that all players were coming out of the rusty times that the Covid block had brought about. But gradually from there, brick by brick, CSK citadel got dismantled and what is being exposed is a kind of embarrassment that has raised a stink! From here to where would be the next big question CSK would face as it looks ahead. Most certainly a 'champion' side would definitely try to get back to its known sharpness but with what sacrifices would be the interesting look out.
Meanwhile the show goes on relentlessly. From a cricket-fan's point of view, the real drama is only now unfolding as the end stages near. Ben Stokes and Hardik Pandya have shown a glimpse of what more is in store with their outstanding batting show against all odds, for their respective teams, Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians respectively, just the other day.
Already fed with the sights of the imperious sixes and boundaries that a variety of players have displayed, the feast has been exciting. The demand then would be for more. With over 550 sixes that had dotted the night skies in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, the fireworks have been classy to say the least. Only everything had come about in the empty environs in keeping with the current times. And that is a big lacuna considering crowd-factor is essentially the soul of any competition. But nobody is complaining. At least the saving grace even with the crowds out, has been that performance-level had not dipped.
While a few added polish to their known reputation, like Shikhar Dhawan with two consecutive centuries that had enough sparkle or K.L. Rahul, another century maker and consistent batsman. Some others like Virat Kohli, Ab deVilliers and Hardik Pandya for example exuded class even as some gained reputation like Devdutt Padikkal, Sanju Samson , Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Tewatia, Chakravarthy and Ravi Bishnoi, among others.
Undoubtedly then the IPL 2020 even as it presents a big stage for world-level cricketers, also forms a great forum for several Indian cricketers yearning to get noticed. Indeed if the action so far is anything to go by, there is reason to believe that Indian cricket is on a fertile ground. So many exciting lads, batsmen and bowlers, have demanded attention but ultimately how many will get a call or even proceed to gain prominence like the Kohlis and Dhonis in the future, has to be seen.
Not that the current edition is any exception. In the past too players who looked capable had sprung up but not many had made it to the national team. So how many will be lucky only time will tell but for the moment they have been doing everything to deserve their places in this wholesome entertainment.