After losing to RR on Monday, the skipper said that the youngsters in the team have not shown as much spark as to warrant replacing senior players in the team.

Dhoni’s ‘youngsters in CSK didn’t show spark’ comment draws flak
IPLT20 IPL 2020 Tuesday, October 20, 2020 - 16:47

As Rajasthan Royals (RR) walked away with Monday’s game in their pocket, effectively ousting three-time champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) out of this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL), all eyes turned towards CSK captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. One of the most successful captains in IPL history, Dhoni had some measured and controversial responses to the questions posed in the post-match interview.

To a question on how he sees Monday’s match, he said that it was important to go back to the process. “It’s not always supposed to go your way. That’s why we try to go back to the process and see if the process was wrong or if we were not able to execute. Result is always a by-product of the process and we keep going back to that. It really helps you think in a positive way,” he said.

However, more than his ‘going back to process’ comments, it is his remark about not seeing a spark in the team’s youngsters that has invited criticism from observers and fans equally. To a question about the playing XI of the team, Dhoni said that it doesn’t make sense to constantly keep tinkering with the combination because it might lead to confusion after five games or so.

“Fair enough, this season we weren’t really there. There were a few chances for the youngsters and maybe we didn’t see the kind of spark that they could’ve given us to think to push the experienced guys and make some space for them. Today what the result really does is to give those guys a chance to have no real pressure on them (in the upcoming matches) so that they can just go out and express themselves (sic),” he added.

‘CSK has run out of juice’

The team’s head coach Stephen Fleming agreed that CSK had struggled to gather momentum and that the mood in the camp was down.

“(The mood in the camp) is pretty down to be honest and it’s fair enough too. We’ve come close in a couple of games in which we were thoroughly outplayed. So you used to get some hope and confidence moving forward when you get positives. We knew it was a crucial game today to stay real in the competition,” he said, adding that it was hard to be upbeat and positive to rely on others’ performances to get back into the competition. The coach added that CSK has been one of the teams that has retained its core players since the inception of IPL and has probably run out of juice.

However, despite Fleming’s comments, Dhoni’s observation on youngsters is being criticised, because over the past few matches there have been signs of consistent non-performance by senior players like Kedar Jadhav and Piyush Chawla.

Former Indian cricketer and commentator Kris Srikkanth was unforgiving in his reaction to Dhoni’s post-match reflection. “I will not agree to Dhoni’s comments at all. If he keeps saying process, their selection process itself is wrong. Are you saying youngster Jagadeesan has no spark and Jadhav has spark? Come on, this is ridiculous, I will not accept his answers today,” he said.

Tamil Nadu lad N Jagadeesan was given just one chance to play in the ongoing IPL by CSK, in which he came in to bat at number four and scored 33 runs off 28 balls against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). He was dropped for the next game and has not made it to the playing XI since then, except for a few cameo appearances as a substitute fielder. Apart from Jagadeesan, others like Ruturaj Gaikwad and Sai Kishore have barely gotten any chance to be a part of the playing XI. Meanwhile, players like Kedar Jadhav and Piyush Chawla have found a place in at least seven out of the total 10 games that the team has played so far.

Kedar Jadhav has scored 62 runs from five innings and his most outrageous appearance was in the game against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) when he changed his bat, adjusted his gloves, took stock of the fielders’ positions only to face dot balls and waste the over. His sloth-like innings led to CSK falling short of the target by 10 runs and losing the match.

Asking what’s the point of giving youngsters a chance moving forward when the tournament was almost over, Srikkanth said, “The tournament is coming to an end and CSK keeps saying ‘process, process’... Dhoni could be great, I agree… but don’t ditch grip, I will not accept that (sic).”

Former Indian cricketer Sadagopan Ramesh also agreed with Srikkanth and highlighted how Jagadeesan had shown more intent during the chance given to him than Kedar Jadhav had.

On social media, fans seemed betrayed by the abysmal performance of one of the most consistent teams in the league since its inaugural edition in 2008 and resorted to sharing their angst on the skipper’s comments.