CHENNAI: This was not supposed to go this way for Chennai Super Kings. They have been the IPL's most successful team. Their win percentage of 59.48 is the best of all sides. Despite missing two seasons, they are just 11 behind Mumbai Indians' record for most IPL wins. They have lost the least number of matches (71). They are the only team to defend the IPL title. No team has played in as many finals as Chennai and they are the lone side to make it to play-offs every single time.
But, all of it is past. The present is a sorry tale. They are an unrecognisable outfit, who only remind you of their glory days. On Friday, in a must-win match against Mumbai Indians, they hit a new low for the season. They ended up with 114/9, a total that seemed way beyond their reach when at 30/6 in the seventh over, with all specialist batsman gone. IPL's lowest ever total (49 by RCB vs KKR) was under threat. It took Mumbai only 12.2 overs to overhaul the total as Ishan Kishan (68 n.o) and Quinton de Kock (46 n.o) guided them to the top of the table. This is not what you expect from Chennai Super Kings. They are a team that season after season, vie for the title.
This time, they are playing like they have already resigned to their fate, that a play-off berth is beyond them. One by one, opposition sides are dismantling a team that had been their envy for so long. Chennai used to instill fear in them. But not anymore. There is just sympathy. The CSK faithfuls, the most passionate franchise fans in India, are waiting for the sorrow to end. They are already looking ahead to the next season, in the hope that there will be fresh auctions.
But here is the catch. The buzz in BCCI circles is, the big auction will be postponed by a year, meaning Chennai will have to play another season with the same squad with a possible addition of a couple of players. There are talks that they might trade Kane Williamson from Sunrisers Hyderabad with an eye on the future, but it is too early to say what will happen on that front.
Before we end, there is still a chance for Chennai to qualify for play-offs. Win the remaining three matches and hope Mumbai Indians, Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore keep winning and in that case Chennai can qualify with just 12 points.
Brief scores: Chennai 114/9 (Curran 52, Boult 4/18) vs Mumbai 116/0 in 12.2 overs (Kishan 68 n,o, De Kock 46 n.o).