Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Monday said that the Chennai Super Kings have not lived up to their billing this Indian Premier League season after the three-time winners were outclassed by the Rajasthan Royals.
Chennai skipper Dhoni’s 200th match in the Twenty20 tournament turned out to be a damp squib as his team lost by seven wickets in Abu Dhabi to slip to the bottom of the eight-team table.
Jos Buttler’s unbeaten 70 and disciplined bowling helped Steve Smith’s Royals dominate the game after being asked to field first.
“It’s fair enough, this season we weren’t there,” a disappointed Dhoni said after Chennai’s seventh loss from 10 matches. “Also there were few chances to the youngsters and maybe we didn’t see the kind of spark that they could have given us to say OK, to push [out] the experienced guys and maybe make space for them [the youngsters].”
Dhoni, 39, said that his team, dubbed “Dad’s Army” by the media, would give the youngsters a chance in the remaining games of the season as Chennai still have an outside chance to progress to the playoffs.
“Today the result, what it really does is give those guys [the youngsters], whatever is left in our league stage, a chance and they play without pressure,” the veteran wicketkeeper-batsman said.
Jofra Archer led the Royals bowling attack with figures of 1-20 to restrict Chennai to 125-5, a total the Royals surpassed with 2.3 overs to spare to move up to fifth place.
Buttler, who came to bat at No. 5 rather than his usual opening slot, put on an unbeaten 98-run stand with skipper Smith, who made 26, after the Royals lost three early wickets.
“I thought we bowled pretty well in the power play, and the spinners did a good job in the middle with their leggies and googlies, and squeezing,” Smith said.
“Shreyas [Gopal the] last two years has been sensational for us and [Rahul] Tewatia this year, whether batting, bowling or fielding, has done the job. Buttler’s innings took the pressure off me at the other end,” he said.
Gopal and Tewatia were miserly in their eight overs, giving away just 32 runs and taking one wicket each.
Chennai’s top-order failed to fire, with Dhoni’s run-a-ball 28 and an unbeaten 35 from Ravindra Jadeja giving the total some respectability.
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