Chennai Super Kings have played three matches so far in the 2020 Indian Premier League and tasted two defeats. It has led to a huge hue and cry from CSK fans who are not used to such a poor start to the league.
Though a close observer wouldn't be surprised with those results in view of how MS Dhoni has comported himself as a captain as well as a batsman. Over the years, Dhoni has been on the ball with most of his decisions, like when to go for the DRS, who to send up or down the batting order, who to bowl in a particular situation, et cetera, et cetera.
His finesse and accuracy, however, has been unravelling in this edition. There has been several instances just in three matches that hint at a totally different Dhoni, polar opposite to the CSK captain of the years gone by.
Right in the first game against Mumbai Indians, he went for an lbw review against Saurabh Tiwary off Piyush Chawla. TV replays showed the ball was missing the stumps. Against Rajasthan Royals, he appealed for a catch when the ball had bounced before it went into his gloves. It also turned out there was no connection with the bat of Tom Curran either.
Against Delhi Capitals, he didn't notice a faint edge off the bat of Prithvi Shaw, yet to open his account, as the ball nestled into his gloves and the batsman went on to score a match-winning 64.
And to make it worse, twice he batted at No.7 and once at No.6. In unsuccessful chases against Rajasthan and Delhi, CSK were desperate for quick runs but instead of putting his hand up like he had done several times in the past, he sent less accomplished and less experienced batsmen ahead of himself.
Too many blunders in such a short time on Dhoni's part, no? After the defeat against Rajasthan last week, he admitted he hadn't been feeling confident about his batting due to a lack of practice.
And that appears the root of all problems in his case. Dhoni seems to be experiencing a confidence crisis as a batsman and it's affecting the other aspects of his game. The long stay away from the game, the international retirement decision seemingly influenced by the selectors' apathy, the IPL pull-out of seasoned players like Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh and then the stressful coronavirus pandemic itself... there could be various reasons behind the dip in his confidence levels.
Whatever may be the reason, Dhoni has to address this batting problem quickly. If CSK are to replicate their past dominance, their captain has to be on top of his batting game.
The good thing is CSK have had a six-day break since their loss to Delhi, enough time for Dhoni to figure out where he went wrong as a captain and batsman and make fresh, potent strategies for the rest of the matches.
CSK fans would really hope that Dhoni is back among the runs in the next few games, preferably against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Friday, so that his strategic genius also returns to the fore.
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