Injury-hit CSK face PBKS in must-win game

Chennai will be looking to get back to winning ways in Dharamshala. (Source:

The IPL 2024 league stage is nearing its climax. Teams are now crunching numbers to determine their playoff chances as the competition intensifies for the top-4 spots. While Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders hold firm in the first two spots, the battle heats up for the remaining positions.

Currently, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Lucknow Super Giants, Chennai Super Kings and Punjab Kings are in contention for the third and fourth spots. Among these teams, two will face off in Dharamshala for a crucial playoff berth, highlighting the clash between the Kings. CSK will take on PBKS at a venue where they have fond memories, but against an opponent who has dominated them in recent seasons. CSK have lost their last five encounters against PBKS, including a defeat at their home ground, Chepauk, just two days ago.

In the ongoing IPL 2024 season, CSK have encountered an atypical journey. While they currently hold the fifth position on the points table, their performance lacks the usual dominance associated with the team. Despite this, they remain in contention for a playoff spot, highlighting their resilience amid the challenges faced during the season. On many occasions, CSK have not fielded their strongest line-up. However, they have consistently found ways to perform well with their limited resources.

This season, however, their vulnerabilities are becoming more apparent, compounded by some unconventional strategies. Chief among their concerns is their bowling department. Admittedly, CSK lean heavily on their batting prowess, a fact evident in their performances across the ten matches played thus far. Bowling has always been their Achilles’ heel, yet the numbers suggest that the season hasn’t been entirely unfavourable for CSK bowlers.

CSK bowlers have struggled during the Powerplay, securing just 13 wickets with an economy rate of 9.1 and a boundary percentage of 73, ranking among the lowest in the league. However, they have significantly improved their performance during the middle overs and death overs. In the middle overs, they have the best economy rate, conceding 7.6 runs per over and claiming 24 wickets. Similarly, in the death overs, they boast the best economy rate of 10.5, with 20 wickets to their credit. These impressive numbers have largely been driven by the pace quartet comprising Deepak Chahar, Matheesha Pathirana, Mustafizur Rahman, and Tushar Deshpande.

However, in the last game, their bowling was exposed as three (Pathirana, Deshpande, and Chahar) of the four bowlers were unavailable. This highlighted the glaring issue of CSK’s weak bench strength. If that game was deemed challenging, CSK fans were in for even more disappointment. Now, with only four games left to play, Chahar has been ruled out for the remainder of the IPL season. Additionally, Mustafizur, who has been CSK’s highest wicket-taker this season, has departed for national commitments and will no longer be available for the remainder of the season.

There is also a cloud hanging over Deshpande, who missed the previous game due to flu. With two frontline pacers out of the competition, CSK now face significant problems in their bowling department. Even though Chahar didn’t perform at his best, he remains CSK’s best option with the new ball, given his experience in the IPL and for India. CSK will play their next four matches in Dharamshala, Ahmedabad, Chennai, and Bengaluru. Chahar would have had success in at least the first three venues, given the nature of the pitches. CSK will miss Chahar.

Then comes Mustafizur. The left-arm pacer was CSK’s go-to bowler, delivering consistently in the Powerplay, middle-overs, and at the back end. With nine years of experience at the top level, Mustafizur’s expertise and his cutters played a significant role in his team’s success this season.

CSK will now be short of experience without Chahar and Mustafizur. As the tournament reaches its business end, every encounter becomes a must-win for CSK. Their bowling stocks have diminished, and now CSK must make the most of the available resources to turn things around and qualify.

The situation is not new to the Yellow Army, as they faced similar challenges last year due to injuries. However, one man, MS Dhoni, was there to bail them out. This time though, they have a new captain, Ruturaj Gaikwad.