The MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai was littered with water bottles after Chennai lost to Bangalore on Wednesday in a match they should have won blindfolded. And it’s the kind of performance, which prompted one of the most sporting crowds in the country to jeer their home team and throw bottles into the ground in displeasure.
As the fight for a spot in the semifinals of the Indian Premier League (IPL) intensifies, Chennai should have known better than to shoot themselves in the foot while chasing a modest 127.
With seven wins from 12 games, Chennai still have a pretty good chance of making it to the semis. But with Mumbai and Delhi breathing down their neck they will now have to at least win one of the remaining games —against Jaipur and Hyderabad —to stay clear of competition.
But they can still make it without a win if Delhi lose their remaining two games. But if Delhi or Mumbai win and Chennai don’t then it will be down to the calculators.
Chennai captain M.S. Dhoni, possibly aware of this situation, appeared as unhappy with his team’s performance on Wednesday as captain of a ship, which had run off course. And he was quick to blame it on the lack of responsible play from his players.
“When in the whole team nobody takes responsibility, this is what happens,” said a dejected Dhoni after Wednesday’s loss to Bangalore.
“If a couple of batsmen had played responsibly we should have won,” he said. “A target of 127 was not a difficult one… It was a gettable total. But a few bad shot selections by batsmen including me affected the match. It was a match where an individual or a couple of partnerships would have taken us home.”
Chennai’s batting has been a bit of a concern after Matthew Hayden and Michael Hussey left. Though the team was given a good opening stand of 60 runs by Parthiv Patel and Stephen Fleming, it lost its way after that. Dhoni promoted himself to number three but fell trying to loft the ball out of the ground when there was no real need to do that.
Fleming, who was bowled off a no-ball, was in a hurry to get out after having got himself a good start. He swept Anil Kumble straight to the fielder at deep square-leg. S. Badrinath and Albie Morkel fell trying to go for big hits, when taking singles and keeping wickets in hand would have helped.
“If the players had thought in the middle as much as they thought in the dressing room, we would have won the game.”
Chennai next face Jaipur at home on Saturday and Dhoni said he would not want to wait till the last league match against Hyderabad to be sure of a semifinal berth.
He, however, said that Wednesday’s loss would not put his team under any extra pressure. “It is about the next game and we will take it one game at a time,” said Dhoni.
“Any game we win will take us through. We are keen on doing well in the next game. We don't really like to leave it till the last game against Hyderabad.”