After the announcement of two new teams being added to the mix and the major overhaul the existing ones received in the mega-auctions, new squads were constructed, some iconic names went missing and new captains were announced, a new era of the Indian Premier League beckoned.

We dubbed it as the season of change.

Also read: The season of change: IPL 2022’s whole new vibe promises to make it a fun ride

It’s still early days in what is going to be a two-month event but a look at the points table after the conclusion of fourteen matches will tell you that we might actually be heading that way. Towards change.

Two of the most successful and storied teams in the history of the tournament - Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings - are languishing at the bottom of the table with all three fixtures lost so far. It seems like familiar territory for MI, they have started their campaign by losing three games on the trot but this is the first time ever that CSK have lost their first three matches of any IPL edition.

Newly appointed CSK captain Ravindra Jadeja is already having to deal with questions like ‘Can you tell us who the captain is?’ in press conferences. However, he addressed the possibility of him being groomed for captaincy when M S Dhoni is still around by saying, “I have been preparing since he (MS Dhoni) told me a few months ago. I was preparing for that. Mentally, I was ready to lead.” He also dismissed being concerned by the lack of form or the absence of some of their key players.

While MI are used to having these less-than-ideal starts and then bouncing back, this time their winless start should send the think-tank into panic mode sooner as there is a smaller margin for error in the now-expanded ten-team IPL.

It seemed like the usually unruffled and chilled-out Rohit Sharma was well aware of it when he hinted at the shock and frustration of being in the same slow-starting position again in the post-match presentation after his team lost against Pat Cummins’ freakish innings. He announced the need to seriously buckle up.

The current scenario poses questions about whether they got their auction strategies wrong or whether the shaky transition is going to be a short-lived one. Because, why else are the most successful franchises in this position in the early days of this fresh, new era?

Here’s probably why.

Mumbai Indians

MI’s auction, to say the least, was interesting. They first became a talking point when they invested a whopping Rs 15.25 Crore to bring back Ishan Kishan, making him the highest-paid buy of the auction and when they spent big moolah to rope in Jofra Archer despite his unavailability this season. While they still remain good buys, it left them sitting rather quietly in the rest of the auction and fewer options to build their team with.

As a result, in a sense, this season will be the real test of Rohit Sharma’s captaincy as he now has to maximise his limited resources in a manner that perhaps only M S Dhoni can boast of. He must ensure that he better his numbers in the league and both him and Kishan better their partnership at the top now that their middle order has a new look to it without the Pandya brothers.

Their middle order with Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma and Kieron Pollard still looks good but they’re also seeking impact from their overseas buys Tim David and Dewald Brevis, who are largely untested in Indian conditions. It must also be noted that David (who was bought for a massive Rs 8.5 Crore) was replaced by Brevis in their third match itself.

However, it is MI’s bowling line-up that could truly become their Achilles’ heels. Those are words unheard before. However, despite the presence of Jasprit Bumrah, there is a possibility that it is the bowling that could trouble them because it is only Bumrah who currently makes the Playing XI of an international side with Tymal Mills being in and out of the England T20I side due to injuries.

While it is not to undermine the potential of less-popular bowlers but it leaves him with the pressure to lift the bowling impetus until Basil Thampi settles in. Jaydev Unadkat is in the reserves and will get a look in sooner than later but he brings to the table pretty much what Mills already provides. Three matches in and it almost seems like the team has not played its best XI and as as a result, haven’t looked close to giving their best performance.

Chennai Super Kings

Ruturaj Gaikwad was the leading run-scorer in the previous edition with 635 runs and it was no surprise that CSK retained the services of the Orange Cap holder, who also had a great domestic season with 603 runs at an average of 150.75 in Vijay Hazare Trophy and 259 runs at an average of 51.80 in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. For them, he is one for the future.

The lack of runs from him at the moment is a concern even if Jadeja states otherwise, simply because the contest within the ten teams demands nearly immediate results.

It is made worse by the fact that Faf du Plessis is scoring the runs at the top. But elsewhere. The pressure on Robin Uthappa to match or come close to the security that someone like Faf or Shane Watson brought to the team is quite high.

Additionally, they seem to be seriously missing Deepak Chahar. Not just because they spent Rs 14 Crore to acquire his services again but because he truly became Dhoni’s go-to bowler, especially in the powerplay.

Moreover, their spin attack, consisting of Jadeja and Moeen Ali has the potential to be lethal but so far, has looked only ordinary with Jadeja with a solitary wicket picked against Punjab Kings and Moeen yet to pick one.

It also perhaps indicated that CSK probably constructed a team keeping in mind the Chepauk pitch just to be faced with the challenge of playing at the batting paradise being dished at the Mumbai venues currently.

While it is acceptable that Jadeja is being groomed under M S Dhoni’s watchful presence, he seems to be looking a little lost. Because he himself is patrolling the boundaries, Dhoni is calling the shots because he is closer to the action and simply because he boasts of the merit to be able to impose. The questions around captaincy are already picking up steam in the press conferences but it also seems to be impacting his all-round prowess.

Soon, he must not only lead the charge with the ball but also show why his batting ability urged people to suggest that he is one of the most improved cricketers in recent times. All while leading the side, by using the insights from Dhoni but doing things on his own too.