The last time Chennai Super Kings lost three games in a row in an IPL season was back in 2014. They still made the playoffs that year, but with the defeats piling up and Super Kings at the bottom of the table in IPL 2020, captain MS Dhoni called for greater professionalism from his side.
Super Kings went down to Sunrisers Hyderabad by seven runs, having allowed their opponents to go from 100 for 4 in 15 overs to 164 for 5. Both Dhoni and coach Stephen Fleming were unhappy with Super Kings' efforts in the field, which included a slew of overthrows, two dropped catches, and a catch off a no-ball.
"I think we need to get a lot of things right," Dhoni told Star, the host broadcaster, after the game. "It's the professionalism that we really need you know: take catches, don't bowl no-balls… those are the things that are really controllables.
"I feel at times we are getting a bit relaxed and committing the same mistakes. (We should) try to read the batsmen, what is his strength and maybe try to bowl in areas where he will have to really hit you well to get runs. I feel today also after the 16th over, we committed that mistake. We had two good overs, but overall we could have been slightly better."
Dhoni said that with dropped catches, there had to be a line drawn.
"Well yes, nobody wants to drop catches," he said. "But at the same time, at this level, at some point of time you have to draw a line saying, 'These are the catches that need to be taken'. Especially when the team is not doing outstandingly well.
"You know catches like these, it can really hamper your knockout stage games. Imagine - today it's a league game but what if this happens in a knockout stage game? You can't really tell yourself that, oh in the knockout stage you won't drop a catch like that. So I feel it's very important to be at your best."
Fleming reckoned Super Kings gave up more than the eventual winning margin in the field itself.
"We just got a little bit loose with what we were trying to do," he said at the post-match press conference. "The last four overs in particular, they were very good and we were patchy. And we just lacked a little bit of confidence in the field. So there's little things all-round, there's probably a dozen runs at least that we gave up just with the overthrows or bad movement. In a tight competition, that's going to cost us and we know that. We've just got to get it right, got to get a bit of confidence and a bit of game rhythm and guys in form - and that can change pretty quickly. But also, if you don't address them, then we'll just slide away."
I tried to hit it too hard - Dhoni
Having begun the tournament coming in at No.7, Dhoni was back to his usual No.5 spot for this game. Although he ended unbeaten on 47 off 36, he was going at less than a run a ball for large parts of his innings, and he put that down to trying to hit the ball too hard, given the large outfield at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
"Well, not really able to middle a lot of deliveries…maybe (I was) trying to hit the ball too hard," he said. "When the wicket is slightly on the slower side, at times it's better to time it. But looking at the outfield you know, it was just subconsciously coming that I have to hit the ball hard."
Dhoni also looked winded when running hard for doubles. There were two breaks in play as he got attended to in the 19th over, and he took a few moments in between deliveries in the 20th over, too.
"I am fine. Tried to get as much time as possible," he said of the breaks in between. "It's quite dry over here, so the throat gets dry and you start to cough. When you have legal signs you know, you can take some time off. (smile) Other than that, it (his health) looks good."
The issue of not being able to keep pace with required run-rates is one that has dogged Super Kings in each of their defeats so far, and Fleming admitted it needed addressing.
"Yeah it is a concern and you don't want to put yourself under pressure," Fleming said. "We do need contributions from the top four if we're going to win this tournament. So we need to get some form from some big players at the top, we're still backing them. It's a case of getting into the tournament. Fourth game in is still pretty early in terms of our cycle of form but there's no doubt the pressure is on and they'll be feeling it a lot more than what I'm talking about."
Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo