Chennai Super Kings chief coach Stephen Fleming attributed the three-wicket defeat to Delhi Capitals in a contest between table-toppers to "difficult conditions" where stroke-play was tough and hitting big shots required lots of effort.
After electing to bowl, Delhi Capitals restricted the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led CSK to 136/5 before surmounting the target with only two balls to spare. Dhoni found accelerating the run-rate difficult and could only score 18 off 27 deliveries before giving an easy catch to Rishabh Pant off Avesh Khan.
Fleming said that not just the CSK skipper but players from both sides struggled to score big on Monday.
"Well, he (Dhoni) wasn't the only one who struggled. It was a difficult day for strokeplay. When 137 (136) is almost enough, I think it was a tough wicket to score big on in terms of the big shots. So both teams struggled with that towards the end of the innings. Sometimes you set your sights too high, (want) too many, and probably we were only 10-15 runs short of having a match-winning score," said Fleming.
In fact, CSK were comfortably placed at 48/2 by the end of the powerplay, but slowed down considerably towards the middle overs, so much so that they couldn't hit a boundary in the next five overs.
Thanks to Ambati Rayudu's unbeaten 55 off 43 deliveries, CSK managed a competitive total, but Dhoni couldn't get his strokeplay going, consuming 27 deliveries for his 18 runs and not hitting even a single boundary.
"So, the difficulty at the moment is to assess what the conditions are in all three different grounds and, batting first, getting a score that is par or just above. It was no lack of intent, it was just we had to stabilise after a couple of mistakes and then we were reasonably well-placed for 150. The other thing was their attack bowled very well in the last five overs. They (DC) were very smart, so it was tough going."
Fleming said the two consecutive defeats were a wake-up call for his side before the business end of the tournament.
"I'd rather have two defeats (CSK lost their previous game to Rajasthan Royals) now than in the two semifinals, if I ever had a wish list," he said. "Today was good, today was scrappy and I think there were a lot of mistakes on both sides. Sometimes, when you've qualified, I know there are one or two (things) that we were trying hard for... and things do change a little bit.
"We try to work very hard on keeping the intensity. We're on the back of three games in five days and a bit of travel, so there were probably clumsy mistakes from us, which was the most disappointing aspect, but in terms of the competition one of the key things is rebounding. Second on the table (with) a chance to get to the top two is still a positive position, but we need to just maintain our intensity or get the flow and rhythm that we had before these two games."