Chennai Super Kings had a lot of things in their favour in Qualifier 1. They were at home. They won the toss. And they had a strong core of experienced players that has been there and done that in the backend of the IPL. But a problem that's followed them all through the 2019 season hit them once again - top-order frailty. MS Dhoni laid the blame for the defeat to Mumbai Indians squarely on his batsmen, who failed to utilise all the advantages at their disposal.
"It didn't really go our way," he said at the presentation. "Especially the batting. Especially when you know home conditions. You have to assess very quickly how the wicket is playing. That's the bonus of playing at home, you've already played six games or seven games, so you know how the wicket has played, whether it is a bit tacky, whether it is coming on or not coming on. What is a good score that we should put on the board. Those are the things I felt we didn't do well in this game because of which we were not able to put something that would have been good to defend. I think the batting needs to get slightly better."
"When you have experienced players in the side, that's what you bank upon them. You're not banking on them for extraordinary fielding. It's just that they have to use their experience slightly more" Dhoni expressing disappointment at CSK's shot selection
The pitch at Chepaulk was a turner and there was a high degree of risk in hitting against the spin. Yet two veterans - Suresh Raina and Shane Watson - tried to do just that and lost their wickets, leaving CSK 33 for 3 at the end of the Powerplay. Still, Dhoni continued to defend his misfiring batting line-up, but was disappointed with some of the shot selection on show.
"Yes, they're the best that we've got. On and off, they've done well. If you look at [them] when they bat, they've done well, But on and off, in some game, they've pulled out a shot that's really not on in that particular game or in that situation or in that condition. So, those are things that you need to assess. Especially, when you have experienced players in the side, that's what you bank upon them. You're not banking on them for extraordinary fielding. It's just that they have to use their experience slightly more. Hopefully we'll crack the code."
CSK's defence of 131 began well, but they couldn't stem the runs well enough to put pressure on Mumbai's long batting-line up.
"I feel once you don't have enough runs on the board, every boundary, it actually hurts you," Dhoni said. "I feel we got off to a good start, Rohit [Sharma]'s wicket early was good, after that we kept giving boundaries, which you can't really afford to do. It was an off game for us and it's bad to have this kind of a game at this stage of the tournament but still the good thing is you're top two so you get another chance. So rather than going over the wicket now you have to round the wicket. The journey becomes slightly long."