The biggest question asked by CSK fans was: can the three champions come back hard and be one of the top teams in the IPL again after what happened in the 2020 edition?
TimesofIndia.com conducted a survey before IPL 2021, where this was one of the questions asked. Interestingly, the “Yes” and “No” options were corrupted in terms of the votes cast. But there were several people who voted saying they don’t think CSK can come back hard in 2021. Many people seem to have canceled their three champions. But Dhoni et al. they proved them wrong in the initial part of IPL 2021 and magnified directly at the top of the points table.
Let’s take a quick look at CSK’s performance in the first 4 games of IPL 2020 compared to the first 4 games they played this season:
The chart below shows how the Super Kings won their first game of 2020 and then lost the next three. While, this time, they started with a loss and then regrouped very quickly and came back strong with three trot victories.
Last season, CSK started their campaign with a 5-wicket victory against Mumbai, then lost to Rajasthan with 16 races. It was followed by a 44-time blow to the Delhi Capitals and a narrow 7-game loss to the Hyderabad Sunrisers.
This season, their first record of wins-losses in four matches is very different. They started with a 7 wicket loss vs Delhi Capitals and have since won three games in a row – a 6 wicket vs Punjab victory, a 45 run vs. win. Rajasthan Royals and then an 18-run victory vs. Kolkata Knight Riders.
So what works for CSK this time? Who are the big impact players who go to the game and behave constantly?
A look at the players CSK bought at the last auction will show that among the new acquisitions they have purchased, Moeen Ali it was the biggest T20 name and it made a difference. The rest of the star performers of the team so far this season were already wearing the yellow jersey.
The four performers with bats and balls for CSK so far in IPL 2021 were – Faf du Plessis, Deepak Chahar, Moeen Ali and Sam Curran.
Curran was cleaned by Pat Cummins in their match against KKR on Wednesday, as he offered up to 30 races at once, but is a very effective T20 player, both with the bat and with the ball.
One of the big positive points for CSK with this year’s bat was the shape of Faf du Plessis. The South African made sure that the CSK did not falter too much, especially with Ruturaj Gaikwad taking the time to find his rhythm. His two scores before 95 * on Wednesday were 36 and 33. He is currently CSK’s top racing player and ranks fourth on the overall list with the highest winners with 164 races in 4 innings, averaging 82 and an attack rate of over 145. He has hit 16 fours and 7 sixes so far in IPL 2021 and alongside Gaikwad, (who is slowly finding his pace after a good performance in the UAE last year ) giving CSK positive starts. In Wednesday’s KKR match, CSK’s first goal partnership was worth 115 races. Faf’s 95 * on Wednesday was also his 17th half-century in the IPL and his first against the KKR. This was in fact his second highest score in the IPL ever, with his highest score being 96 against the Punjab Kings in May 2019. That blow on Wednesday helped CSK record 220/3 vs KKR – the fifth highest IPL score of all time.
Another notable player for CSK this season was new bowler Deepak Chahar. Chahar was black in the last edition played in the UAE. In 14 matches last year, he managed to take only 12 counters. This season, however, he was a real winner of the match for CSK, shaking up opposition groups with his swing bowling. So far, in 4 matches, he already has 8 counters. What’s really interesting is that it already has two or four over-the-counter launches, which also means it was over-the-counter in two games, but that can’t eliminate the impact it had overall. His best figures this season so far are 4/13 and he has an economic rate of 7.33. He is the biggest CSK pack player so far in IPL 2021 and ranks second along with Avesh Khan of Delhi in the overall list, behind only Harshal Patel from RCB, who has 9 packs so far and has a purple cap.
England’s Moeen Ali has also added a lot to the CSK range. The 33-year-old all-rounder has so far taken 4 counters in 4 matches, offering only 57 races, at an economic rate of less than 7. His best bowling figures so far are an incredible 3/7 and he is by far the second most successful CSK bowler in IPL 2021. With the bat, CSK used Moeen in the top and scored 133 runs in 4 innings so far, averaging over 33 and a hit rate of 153.
Another good news for CSK is that the young Ruturaj Gaikwad seems to have taken shape. His 64 vs KKR match on Wednesday was his first fifty of this season and that will give him a lot of confidence in the future.
Although they managed to collect a few trot victories at the end of the tournament, the men in yellow finished seventh out of eight teams last season.
This time, CSK is right at the top of the points table after the first 4 games, with 6 points and an extremely healthy NRR of +1,142.
It is always a telling state when a team is on the first place on the points table after 4-5 initial matches. It shows that they have momentum, that they managed to win the great moments of the matches and that they perform as a group. That was missing for CSK in IPL 2020.
There are still areas, of course, where MS Dhoni, Stephen Fleming and team leadership would like to work harder. The most important thing is to keep the momentum going. But then CSK is a team that knows what it takes for that to happen.
01:08IPL 2021: Chennai Super Kings defeated Kolkata Knight Riders by 18 races
Their next match will see them take over RCB with big flights on April 25 in Mumbai. There will also be a clash of Dhoni vs Virat.
CSK revival is active. It will be very interesting to see what comes next for the next phase of the league matches for Dhoni and his boys.
IPL 2021, match 15: Chennai Super Kings vs Kolkata Knight Riders
The Chennai Super Kings overcame Pat Cummins’ bat attack to win an 18-time victory over Kolkata Knight Riders on Wednesday. (Photo PTI for IPL)