IPL 2021: Chennai Super Kings Pre-Season Analysis

Chennai Super Kings, after having a rusty season in the IPL 2020, will look to regain their stature in the IPL 2021. The Dhoni-led team struggled in the IPL 2020 in every possible department and ended up not qualifying for the first time in the IPL history. Still, they had a couple of positives to take from the tournament. The MS Dhoni-Stephen Fleming pair will try to make those required modifications in the team combinations and in their batting approach, in particular. They would hope to improve last year’s position, at least.

Current squad:

MS Dhoni (c & wk), Faf du Plessis, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, N Jagadeesan, Robin Uthappa, Ravindra Jadeja, Sam Curran, Dwayne Bravo, Karn Sharma, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore, Mitchell Santner, Imran Tahir, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Lungi Ngidi, Josh Hazlewood, KM Asif, Moeen Ali, Krishnappa Gowtham, Cheteshwar Pujara, Harishankar Reddy, Bhagath Verma, Hari Nishanth.

CSK retained most of their core members of the squad as they love to do so every year. However, they released some of their key players including Kedar Jadhav, Piyush Chawla, Murali Vijay, Harbhajan Singh and Shane Watson (retired).

New signings:

Chennai Super Kings did reasonably well in the IPL 2021 mini-auction, they ticked most of the boxes after the auction. After releasing two of the most experienced spinners in the IPL history in Piyush Chawla and Harbhajan Singh, they were in need of more spinning options. MS Dhoni, as a skipper and wicket-keeper, always looks for spinning options in the team. Hence, CSK purchased a fair amount of spinning options in Moeen Ali and Krishnappa Gowtham, making him the most expensive uncapped Indian in the history of the league. Going for Moeen Ali was the best decision by the franchise with his efficiency at every batting position.

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Strengths:

1. Batting depth:

After the return of Suresh Raina and the inclusion of Robin Uthappa, all of a sudden, CSK looks like a fantastic team on paper. They’ll have a batting depth till 9 in most games. Although Suresh Raina hasn’t played any competitive cricket off late, he makes the batting order very stronger and stable. He’s still the second-highest run-scorer in IPL history.

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The presence of Sam Curran and/or Dwayne Bravo down the order will allow the batsman to play freely. Shardul Thakur who’s been rocking International Cricket with his wicket-taking spells has also contributed with the bat. He has been scoring those extra runs which the oppositions perhaps don’t expect from him.

2. Ample of options in every department:

As mentioned earlier, CSK looks like a fantastic side on paper. They’ve got all their bases covered as far as the spin department is concerned: leg spinners in Imran Tahir and Karn Sharma and off spinners in Moeen Ali, Krishnappa Gowtham, Mitchell Santner, Sai Kishore and Hari Nishanth. Moreover, they also have a handful of fast bowling all-rounders. These players maintain the balance of the team and CSK would be more than happy to have them in the team.

3. Experience:

CSK is often called ‘Dad’s Army’, but the thing here is that majority of them have some amount of experience. Experience is a very vital factor in crucial matches when the matches get tough. MS Dhoni’s experience has always been the factor of CSK’s success over the years. Moreover, Suresh Raina, having played over 190 games adds immense value to the side.

Weaknesses:

1. Lack of game time:

Although the team looks very balanced, most of them haven’t played a competitive game post IPL 2020. The batting line-up looks very strong, but the majority of them including MS Dhoni, Raina and Uthappa haven’t had a game time. Also, Ravindra Jadeja has missed a number of games due to an injury.

2. Lack of intent in batting:

The major reason behind CSK’s failure in the last season was the lack of intent in their batting.

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They had too many similar kinds of players in the squad. Moreover, they were missing their key batsman in Suresh Raina. After his arrival along with Robin, Chennai Super Kings are expected to start with a bit more intent.

X-factor Player:

It has to be Sam Curran, the ‘Man of the Match’ in the final ODI of the India vs England series. Sam Curran, with the capability of bowling with the new ball and his handy contributions with the bat, makes him a crucial asset to the team. He’s someone who will maintain the balance of the team by increasing the batting depth down the order.

Featured Image: Chennai Super Kings | Instagram

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