Sunil Gavaskar: Chennai Super Kings' main problem has been with the batting

The author analyses CSK’s poor show in the ongoing Indian Premier League and makes his point as to why Rafael Nadal is consistent at winning Grand Slams.

The emergence of young Sam Curran as an all-rounder of promise has been the only plus for Chennai Super Kings this season.   -  Sportzpics / BCCI

This may be the first time in the history of the Indian Premier League (IPL) that Chennai Super Kings will not be in the playoffs. Every year that the team has participated it has got to the knockouts. It has won the title thrice, been runner-up five times, a couple of which have been by the narrowest margins possible and finished third and fourth once each. This is truly incredible as no other team has been able to do that in the highly competitive environment that the IPL creates.

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This year CSK started on a wrong note with two of its star players unavailable to play before even a ball was bowled. It just wasn’t able to get going despite beginning the tournament with a win over the defending champion Mumbai Indians. Don't forget that when the auction took place last year the tournament was to be played in India and so all teams including Chennai had picked their squads to play on Indian pitches and conditions. While the pitches in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are also flat there has been little help for the spinners as they get on Indian pitches in April and May. The pitches in UAE are now beginning to get slower after multi use and spinners are getting some purchase, but that hasn’t helped Chennai’s cause. Its main problem has been with the batting and apart from Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis none of the youngsters have raised their hands to show they can take the team further. The talented but temperamental Ambati Rayudu has wasted a few good starts and not gone on to a big score. So Chennai has not been able to put enough runs on board. The saving grace has been the emergence of young Sam Curran as an all-rounder of promise, but that’s really the only plus for Chennai in a season it would like to forget in a hurry. It will have to think long and hard about the next season especially with some of its ageing overseas recruits who are getting injured a little too often for comfort.

Rafael Nadal finds something extra that takes him to the French title year after year.   -  AFP

 

Chennai's consistent performance over the years may bring forth comparison with the Big Three in the tennis world. Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal have featured in the semis if not the finals of virtually all the majors over the last 10 years or so. Reaching the semis year after year is incredible and the Big Three have been doing it quite easily despite a rash of young talent which seems to freeze in the big ticket major events. The US open final was contested by two youngsters who have been threatening to take the tennis world by storm but have done very little so far. Dominic Thiem has reached four major finals and just won the US Open but when it comes to playing against the Big three he also stumbles.

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That is why Rafa Nadal winning the French Open for a record-extending 13th time is absolutely jaw dropping. It’s the hardest surface to play on and a player has to be incredibly fit to keep playing five setters pretty much every day. Yet Rafa finds something extra that takes him to the title year after year. He is level with Roger Federer with 20 majors under his belt and to many in the tennis world he is already the greatest of them all. He still has a few years left and with his superb fitness he could win majors for the next couple of years too. What shines through apart from his talent is his temperament. He hardly ever gets ruffled unlike Djokovic and so has a better grip on his game as he doesn’t let other factors disturb his mental equilibrium.

As always it’s temperament that separates the men from the boys.