Chennai have reached the final four in every single edition of the IPL to date under MS Dhoni © IANS
Chennai Super Kings (CSK) have lost three on the trot at the business end of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014. Though their qualification into the playoffs is secure, Nishad Pai Vaidya writes that Chennai need to regain momentum for the big games. A victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) would serve them well.
A long tournament can be a very tricky proposition for any side. Not only does a side have to maintain consistency to ensure passage through to the next round, but also have to peak at the right time so that their best performances come through when it matters the most. The Indian Premier League (IPL) can be particularly dicey, given the fact that you have play 14 league games before it boils down to three playoff games and the final. One bad day in the office can cost you dearly.
However, the playoffs format is a lot better than the semi-finals, which were in place during the first three seasons. In the current format, the teams placed on the first and second spot get the advantage of having another shot at the final should they lose their first tussle. For topping your league, you should have an advantage when compared to the other sides and it is fair enough. Back in 2009, Deccan Chargers and Royal Challengers Bangalore, teams place at No 3 and 4 made it into the final because Delhi Daredevils and Chennai Super Kings fumbled on the big day.
Despite the playoffs in place, there still is a chance for you to lose steam and give it all away. Remember the Delhi Daredevils in the 2012 season? During the league stage, they were the best side by far and dominated most teams. However, they lost their qualifier to the eventual champions Kolkata Knight Riders, and then lost to Chennai in the Eliminator. This shows, how important it is to head into the playoffs with momentum.
This is where skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni would put his thinking cap on. In the ongoing IPL 2014, Chennai have lost three consecutive games as they head into their final league game. It is imperative Chennai win their last game against Royal Challengers Bangalore to regain that momentum going into the playoffs. It will also help them finish in the top two, instead of putting them in a more precarious third or fourth spot.
There are a few issues for Chennai though. They haven’t yet found a stable fifth bowling option. Ishwar Pandey and Mohit Sharma are the settled seam bowlers and Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are the tweakers, but they have tried out Ben Hilfenhaus, John Hastings and Samuel Badree for the fifth spot. So far, it hasn’t worked for them and at this stage, all they can do is hope that the fifth bowler’s spot doesn’t hurt them too much. It is not that they are resting some of the players; they haven’t been able to zero in on a good combination.
Nevertheless, Chennai are by far the best team in the whole tournament. The core group has remained intact and knows how to win at crucial intervals. In 2012, they just about made it into the playoffs, and then stormed their way into the final, where they lost a close game to Kolkata. This is where nerves are tested and Chennai’s resolve will help them overcome this slump as they head into the playoffs. There isn’t a need to press the panic button, but a win over Bangalore would do just well.
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(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)