All is not well between Ravindra Jadeja and Chennai Super Kings.

Defending champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) have got off to a horror start in their Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 campaign. After three matches, they are yet to open their account. Beginning with a loss against the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), they have gone on to taste defeat against the Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) and the Punjab Kings (PBKS). It’s not just the losses but the manner of defeat that has been somewhat deflating. 

Against PBKS, both their batting and bowling suffered. Just a couple of days before the start of the edition, Chennai made a massive revelation when it was informed that MS Dhoni had decided to hand over the captaincy to Ravindra Jadeja. Although these are still early days in the tournament, in the wake of CSK’s disastrous start, it’s pertinent to analyze whether Chennai have actually made a mistake with regard to the captaincy change.

Jadeja too inexperienced?

While Jadeja is undoubtedly the most valuable player in the CSK line-up for IPL 2022, questions will be asked about his leadership. He doesn’t have much experience of captaincy, and his lack of skills have been clearly exposed in the first few matches. What is more worrying for Chennai is the fact that the additional responsibility of leading the side seems to be affecting his individual performance. In the first three matches, he registered scores of 26, not out, 17, and 0. And, with his left-arm spinner, which is usually highly effective, he has managed only one wicket.

Some people are blaming Dhoni for passing on the batting to Jadeja at the last moment. But it would be foolhardy to think that one of India’s greatest captains would make such a disastrous move. As Jadeja himself clarified after the one-sided defeat at the hands of Punjab, Dhoni had informed him about the leadership change months in advance, and he had been preparing towards the same. That theory should thus be thrown out of the window.

Jadeja unlucky to be handed over weak side?

While Chennai have been unimpressive without doubt, it can also be questioned whether the all-rounder is just plain unlucky to be handed over a weak side. Remember, CSK are missing Deepak Chahar, who is likely to be out of action for the most part of IPL 2022 due to injury. Among the other bowlers, they have Tushar Deshpande, Mukesh Chowdhury, and Shivam Dube in the pace department. None of them seem like they would threaten the opponents.

Even in the spin department, if you take away Jadeja, there is not a lot of quality around. The captain himself is struggling for rhythm with the ball while off-spinner Moeen Ali is hardly being utilized. Their poor bowling was the key reason why the Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) eased to victory against Chennai despite chasing a 200-plus target. CSK do have Dwayne Bravo in their ranks, who is now the leading wicket-taker in IPL history. However, there is only so much that he can do.

Should Dhoni have carried on for one more season?

Since Dhoni was playing the IPL 2022, one wonders whether it would have made more sense for him to carry on leading the franchise for one more year. Perhaps, that way, he could have groomed Jadeja in a better way. As an alternate, though, CSK could probably have handed over the leadership to Bravo, who has experience of leading in international as well as franchise cricket. Jadeja could have been his deputy for this season. That way, there would have been lesser pressure of expectations on him.

Of course, hindsight always sounds sensible. There are still enough matches for Jadeja and co. to turn things around. Dhoni and Bravo, who are perhaps featuring in their last IPL season, would be keen to sign off on a high. If that happens, well and good. But if Chennai continue their losing streak, the question marks over the captaincy decision will only get bigger.

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