Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s 200th match was expected to be a special affair. But not only was Dhoni’s performance lackadaisical but also, his words thereafter were shocking, to say the least as the IPL 2020 is proving to be unlucky for the Chennai Super Kings.

As much as Dhoni is known to play his cards close to his chest, he can, also, elucidate at length rather simple but profound plans at press conferences. It was not surprising, therefore, that Dhoni went into one of those modes at the end of the match against the Rajasthan Royals. The difference was that this time the defeat took a backseat as the Chennai Super Kings put the onus of the non-selection of youngsters in the tournament to their lack of spark, drawing shock and ire.

It is no hidden secret that the CSK team is one of the oldest teams in terms of the average age of their cricketers. For years, the Chennai team has followed a strategy that emphasized its core, and then additionally, retained much of the remaining squad even as other teams continue to shop at the IPL auctions to find sharper, in form players.

Even before the IPL 2020 got underway in the UAE, it was even rumoured that the sudden departure of Suresh Raina had thrown a spanner in the works as far as Dhoni’s succession plans go. Judging by his performances and his talk, the rumours might not be off the mark because it is the captain who appears jaded and lacklustre.

Dhoni seems to be hampered not only by the loss of prolific batsman, Raina but also, from his deficiency to not put enough faith in the younger members of the squad. Was this complacency in continuing with CSK’s rigid plans over the years?

Even as the three-time champions are staring at the exit door for the first time in their IPL history even before the playoffs, Dhoni blamed the team’s selection muddles on the youngsters on the team, claiming they had not shown enough spark to warrant selection.

Dhoni’s emphasis on process is well documented but it seemed that in his 200th match, the CSK captain appeared to be rambling, talking about how the focus on the process might not affect the team about the outcome of the matches. But the CSK had already lost an emphatic number of matches early on, with the captain himself unwilling to take on additional responsibility in the batting order. To say the team would have been unaffected is unconvincing.

On occasions, both Dhoni and Stephen Fleming, the CSK coach, had lost their cool and it might not be long before the CSK management might look at both their roles as they will have to look at the team composition. The idea that Dhoni would suggest that now the youngsters will be tried seems blasphemous in a format tailor-made for youngsters.

After all, one of the reasons for kick-starting the IPL was with a view that the young India hopefuls could rub shoulders with their illustrious international counterparts. To count them out without even giving them a chance – Dhoni claims not wanting to chop and change when the Chennai team has been in need of a shakeup and a wake-up, one might add – seems like a captain who was caught napping at the wheel and decided to blame the crash on the road divider.

Although still in with a mathematical chance, the skipper appears to have thrown in the towel. Why did the CSK not use the transfer window if the captain felt the backups were no good? A strange admission to come from an otherwise astute captain who led team India well.

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