Chennai Super Kings (CSK) who may have already lost Deepak Chahar for a considerable amount of time due to a hamstring injury, uncertainty over Ben Stokes return have been dealt with a further blow as fast bowler Sisanda Magala too has been ruled out for a couple of weeks. Not to forget, another fast bowler Simarjeet Singh has also been out for some time now due to an injury and has not played any competitive cricket since Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022.
To add to their woes, CSK head coach Stephen Fleming also revealed that skipper MS Dhoni too has not been 100% in the tournament so far as he is playing through a knee injury that has not allowed him to run between the wickets at full tilt.
“He is nursing a knee injury which you can see in some of his movement, hindering him somewhat. His fitness has been professional. He comes in months before the tournament. He does some netting in Ranchi, but his main preseason is a month before he comes to Chennai," Fleming said at the post-match press conference.
“He works his way back into match form, and you can still see he is playing pretty well. So we always have confidence about how he manages himself. He always keeps himself up to speed."
Despite this, Dhoni nearly took CSK over the line at Chepauk with a blistering unbeaten 17-ball 32, chasing 176 against Rajasthan Royals (RR) that included three sixes and a four, but in the end, Sandeep Sharma held his nerve to deliver a three-run win for his side.
Magala, who played his first-ever IPL game on Wednesday (April 12) walked off the field after taking Ravichandran Ashwin's catch. He had bowled just two overs till then and did not return to bowl again.
The South African immediately pointed that he was having trouble with one of his fingers in the dugout and went off the field. Magala, as a result, is set to miss at least the next three games, but could be back in time incidentally for the game against RR on April 27.
The situation for Fleming and CSK are far from ideal at the moment. “We have lost another player two games in a row, which means we are operating on thin resources," Fleming said.
"I think a lot of players coming out of a big domestic season are a little bit broken, but we just keep having to find solutions.
"So we'll do that in the next four days. But yeah, it's not ideal yet. The captain has to then think on his feet [if bowlers keep getting injured]. Moeen Ali had to come back [after Magala hurt his webbing] and he hadn't had a great day [but] he got the wicket of [Jos] Buttler which was good.
And you've got young players like Akash [Singh] who is coming in for his first game, having to bowl some key overs. It's not how we plan but T20 very rarely goes to plan."
Speaking of player availability, Fleming said, "Chahar is out for a few weeks. Magala is out for two weeks. Stokes being monitored on a day-to-day basis. [Matheesha] Pathirana tested positive for Covid in New Zealand and has recovered and available for selection now."
Fleming said that little things like misfields, dropped catches made the difference in the end as RR went on to post a competitive total.
“Extras, sloppy in the field with some catches going down, and little things on the day are going to matter as the competition is getting tighter and little things like these will determine results. We lost momentum in the middle, and their spinners bowled well. Some good hitting at the end got us close," Fleming said.
“We came up against a team that matched well, and it was a pretty good contest. Three-run defeat was a fair reflection."
CSK will look to return to winning ways when they take on Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) next in Bengaluru on Monday (April 17).