Three-time Indian Premier League champions Chennai Super Kings will be forced into major changes after a humiliating defeat to their arch-rivals Mumbai Indians, their veteran captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said.
Dhoni's team suffered a crushing 10-wicket loss in Friday's clash that is widely considered Indian cricket's El Clasico drawing a huge TV audience.
Mumbai and Chennai, both huge spenders on international stars, are now at opposite ends of the eight team table. Mumbai are strong candidates for a fifth title while Dhoni's side are virtually certain to miss the playoffs. And he admitted after an eighth defeat in 11 games that this "hurt".
Chennai could manage only 114 for nine, a total four-time champions Mumbai chased down in 12.2 overs without losing a wicket.
"Whenever you're not doing well, there can be a hundred reasons, but one of the main things you ask yourself is whether you've played to the potential you've got, no matter the conditions," Dhoni said.
"And this year we haven't. Cumulatively there have been batting failures."
Chennai have been dubbed "Dad's Army" by the media because of their use of over-35 players including Dhoni, Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis. That will now change.
- Rusty Dhoni -
Dhoni, 39, who retired from international cricket in August, said young players will be blooded for the remaining three games.
"I think it's important for us to have a clear picture of next year. There are lots of ifs and buts -- the auction, where the venues will be. The coming three games will be an ideal opportunity to give platforms," said Dhoni.
"See some of the youngsters in preparation for next year, see who will bat and who bowls at the death and soaks the pressure. A few more who are on the bench will get games in the coming three games."
Watson was dropped for the Mumbai game but South African Imran Tahir, 41, played his first match of the season.
"We had a problem of balance all the way through" with the spin bowling "ineffective", said coach Stephen Fleming explaining the introduction of the IPL's oldest player.
"We have got to find a way to win the next three games and give guys opportunities to press case for retention next year or for opportunities for other teams."
Dhoni, once of the game's best finishers but who took more than a year off after India's elimination from the World Cup, has been slammed for his go-slow approach this season.
Chennai "are looking like an ageing boxer in the ring against younger fighters who are throwing more punches than he can handle," veteran commentator Harsha Bhogle wrote on Twitter.
"In my opinion, the break from the World Cup in 2019 to this IPL allowed some rustiness to creep in," former India captain Kris Srikkanth wrote in The Times of India newspaper, calling for the legendary wicketkeeper-batsman to go back to his traditional "fearless and attacking" tactics.