When IPL 2021 got suspended mid-way through the season, 3-time champions Chennai Super Kings were placed comfortably at 2nd position in the points table. MS Dhoni led side had a fantastic first half of the season where they won 10 points in 7 games. But the big question is - What suddenly changed in the side from last year where they had a dismal outing? While there are many reasons, the most significant factor has been the change in venue.
MS Dhoni and Co. struggled in UAE in IPL 2020
The Yellow Army played the first five matches of IPL 2021 in Mumbai where the wicket is fast and bouncy. The ball comes onto the bat quite nicely and the batting-friendly wickets was suitable for a team like CSK who won 4 out of 5 matches in Mumbai. Historically, CSK have been built as a team which can thrive on slowish tracks at Chepauk. In their prime, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni used to dominate the spinners right from the beginning which gave them an edge over the others making Chepauk a fortress for them.
However, things haven't been the same in last couple of years. With an ageing squad, the slow and sluggish tracks don't really suit Chennai Super Kings. The same was on display last year when the tournament was played in UAE and it was difficult for batsmen to score runs, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Struggling with their strike rate issues, MS Dhoni's side failed to qualify for the play-offs for the first time in history of tournament as they finished 7th on points table.
CSK will be vulnerable due to slow wickets and hot weather
With the second half of IPL 2021 shifting to UAE once again, it could have a huge impact on CSK's season considering that wickets are expected to be quite slow in Middle East during the months of September and October. The weather is also going to affect Chennai Super Kings who have some veterans in their squad in the form of Imran Tahir (42 years), MS Dhoni (40 years), Dwayne Bravo (37 years), Faf du Plessis (36 years), Ambati Rayudu (35 years) and Suresh Raina (34 years).
While there is no doubt that the above mentioned players are legends of the game and can still make valuable contributions for their side, the wickets and weather will certainly pose a huge challenge for them. As the other teams (which have a relatively younger squad) try to exploit CSK's vulnerability, it will be interesting to see what plans does MS Dhoni and co. come up with in UAE as they aim to clinch their 4th IPL title this year.