Dad's army struggle to stay afloat

Chennai Super Kings' (CSK) desperation for a win in the Indian Premier League (IPL), after two successive defeats, finally ended on Tuesday when they registered a 20-run win over SunRisers Hyderabad.

It helped CSK keep their playoff hopes alive. But the team were placed sixth on the points table in the eight-team league. They only have six matches to lift themselves.

It has not been an IPL to remember for CSK. The three-time champions and perennial playoff contenders are struggling for form with ageing players unable to rise to the occasion.

It will not be a surprise if they miss out on an IPL playoff berth for the first time in their history.

One of the major problems plaguing CSK is their batting.

In the absence of former India player Suresh Raina, who returned home from the tournament for personal reasons, the middle-order has looked unstable with batsmen being unable to maintain the flow of runs during a run-chase.

CSK's head coach Stephen Fleming has demanded more intensity from his "ageing" team's batsmen as he grapples for answers to explain what has been a disastrous IPL campaign.

Led by a 39-year-old Dhoni, the CSK players' average age is a little over 30 and the team is often referred to as the league's Dad's Army.

"If we don't get a good start at the top with our two overseas players, we're falling into a hole. So we're looking for positive solutions," said Fleming. "What I'd like is a little bit more intensity through the middle overs... We are just ending up with too much to do at the back."

Asked if it was the most challenging period of his tenure and whether the side had a chance of making the play-offs, Fleming said: "It's getting further away if we keep playing like this".

He added: "If you look at a couple of other factors, this one is an ageing team. Also, the conditions... the spinners at this stage are playing a small role but still not playing the substantial role we are used to."

Dhoni likened the problems his team are having to that of a sinking ship, springing too many leaks to plug at the same time.

"Batting has been a bit of a worry," he said. "I feel we need to do something about it because you can't just keep turning up and (not perform)."

Former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan believes CSK are struggling because they did not bring in a replacement for Raina.

"Chennai Super Kings are not settled," he said. "There have been lots of problems in the team composition.

"If Raina had been batting at No. 3, they could have played an extra bowler. The teams which have been playing with an additional bowler in the IPL are looking stronger."

Indo-Asian News Service

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