Deepak Chahar, CSK pacer recalled the dismal season last year and spoke about the tough time they had experienced in IPL 2020, in a recent interview with Sportskeeda.
CSK failed to make it to the playoffs for the first time in the history of the tournament in IPL 2020. Chennai Super Kings though performed brilliantly in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021. The MS Dhoni-led side finished second on the points table with 5 wins from 7 seven games before the tournament came to an abrupt halt.
Deepak Chahar: Situation Before The Start Of The IPL 2020 Was Really Bad For CSK
It was a stunning comeback from Chennai after what they went through last year in the UAE. IPL 2020 will go down in the history as the worst season for MS Dhoni-led CSK. The three-time champions looked like minnows in a big pool of cricket giants. They struggled to get runs, bowl well, and overall, they found it difficult to win matches. As a result, they failed to make it to the playoffs for the first time in the history of the tournament.
“The situation before the start of the IPL 2020 season was really bad for us. There are a lot of players in our squad who don’t play regularly and hence we needed practice. We wanted to go to Dubai early but couldn’t get permission. So, we put a small 5–6-day camp in Chennai,” said Deepak Chahar who picked 20 scalps(12 and 8) in last 2 seasons.
“I was then tested COVID positive and had to quarantine myself for 16-17 days. Ruturaj Gaikwad also tested positive and had to quarantine himself for 28 days. If you are a bowler and you have had COVID-19 then it is really difficult to recover within 20-25 days and get back to your best,” Deepak Chahar was quoted as saying.
Having performed well in India’s domestic cricket, 23-year-old Ruturaj Gaikwad was expected to have a good outing for CSK but he managed to score just 5 runs which included two ducks leading to his axe. After being recalled later, Ruturaj Gaikwad smashed a hat-trick of half-centuries in the last three games to amass 204 runs averaging 51 in 6 games. He scored unbeaten 65, 72 and unbeaten 62 as CSK won the last 3 games but finished 7th in IPL 2020.
Deepak Chahar: Suresh Raina’s Absence Weakened CSK’s Batting
A couple of senior CSK players – Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh (now with KKR) – had pulled out of the tournament citing personal reasons. Their absence, especially, Suresh Raina not being with the team affected CSK’s batting a big time. Deepak Chahar said that Suresh Raina’s return helped it find balance in the tournament which led to their improved performance in IPL 2021.
“Even Raina Bhai wasn’t there and his absence did weaken our batting. His absence affected the balance of the squad, something which was restored in the IPL 2021 season when he returned,” Chahar said.
The inclusion of Moeen Ali and the stability in their batting order played a massive role in CSK’s revival in IPL 2021. As both Suresh Raina and Ambati Rayudu hadn’t played any competitive cricket before the IPL 2021, MS Dhoni went with Moeen Ali at No.3. The move paid off well as the English all-rounder amassed 206 runs at an average of 34.33 and a strike rate of 157.25.
Faf du Plessis continued from where he left in the UAE in 2020 scoring 320 runs in 7 matches at a strike rate of 145.45 including 4 fifties. The platform laid by him and opener Ruturaj Gaikwad (196 runs at a strike rate of 128.94) eased the pressure on the middle order and went a long way enabling CSK to put up massive totals. Ambati Rayudu-136 runs, Ravindra Jadeja-131 runs, Suresh Raina-123 runs also were among runs.