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Super Kings and Knight Riders review - A season of injury and instability

The two teams, with a combined six trophies in their cabinet, won a total of ten games between them

Deivarayan Muthu

Chennai Super Kings

Where they finished
A superior net run-rate over Mumbai Indians allowed them to finish ninth and avoid the wooden spoon.
Season in a nutshell
Super Kings suffered a massive blow even before the season started, with Deepak Chahar, for whom they forked out INR 14 crore (USD 1.86 million approx) at the auction, suffering a quadricep tear. He then sustained a back injury during rehab and was subsequently sidelined from the entire tournament. Adam Milne's injury-induced absence too left them scrambling for balance with Devon Conway sacrificed for bowling cover during the early part of the season. Later on, they also lost Ravindra Jadeja to injury and struggled to identify their best XI.
In the games where the batters performed well, the bowlers couldn't back them up. And in the games where the bowlers stepped up, the batters frittered away the advantage. They failed to fire collectively and by the end of the season, they had to recalibrate their plans towards building for the future.
Questionable move(s)
Handing over the captaincy to Jadeja, two days before the start of the season, only for Dhoni to return to the helm midway through the season. The burden of leadership affected Jadeja's form so much that he even dropped sitters in the field.
Dropping Dwaine Pretorius and persisting with Chris Jordan against Gujarat Titans, particularly after the South African allrounder had shown some spark. Curiously enough, Shivam Dube, who had started strongly with the bat, was also left out for three matches.
Find of the season
No other bowler took more than the 11 wickets left-arm fast bowler Mukesh Choudhary took in the powerplay. Choudhary's impressive growth from a net bowler last season to a strike bowler was a welcome boost for Super Kings.
Notable mentions
The Sri Lankan pair of Maheesh Theekshana and Matheesha Pathirana sparkled in their first stint at the IPL. Pathirana, known as Podi (little) Malinga in Sri Lanka cricket circles, impressed with his late-swinging yorkers in the two games that he played, earning glowing appraisals from both Dhoni and head coach Stephen Fleming. As for Theekshana, he unleashed his variations this IPL and could play a bigger role for Super Kings, if they move back to Chepauk, next season.

Kolkata Knight Riders

Where they finished
Seventh out of ten teams with six wins in 14 matches.
Season in a nutshell
Twenty-one players. Six different opening combinations. Beset by injuries, the woeful form of two key players, both retained prior to the auction - Venkatesh Iyer and Varun Chakravarthy - meant Knight Riders, the 2021 runners-up, were one of the most unsettled units this season. All of this left Andre Russell and Sunil Narine with too much to do at the end.
Questionable move
The Knight Riders' entire batting line-up was vulnerable to the short ball, which raised serious questions about their squad construction at the auction. Multiple sides simply bounced them out the first chance they got. They also missed a trick at the auction by not picking a reliable death bowler to fill in the Lockie Ferguson-sized void.
Find of the season
Often confined to being substitute fielder, Rinku Singh showed off his batting chops in a difficult middle-order role. He helped Knight Riders finish a tricky chase against Rajasthan Royals while his swashbuckling 15-ball 40 against Lucknow Super Giants, cut short by a freakish catch by Evin Lewis, is almost certain to make the highlights reel of IPL 2022.
Notable mentions
As usual, Narine and Russell did the heavy lifting for Knight Riders. Narine's economy rate of 5.57 across 56 overs was the best among bowlers who had bowled more than 10 overs in the season. Russell, meanwhile, walloped 32 sixes in 192 balls. Only Buttler has hit more sixes (37) than him (in league phse), but the Royals batter had the benefit of facing 428 balls. Narine and Russell will next team up at the other Knight Riders franchise in the CPL.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo