Chennai Super Kings (CSK) had a below-par Indian Premier League (IPL) season last year as they finished outside the playoff spots for the first time in their history. Their batting failed to come together as a unit while their bowling didn’t deliver consistent performances. Their fielding which skipper MS Dhoni stresses on often, also failed to deliver resulting in a sixth-placed finish.
Now, with an eye on the 2021 edition of the IPL, CSK released six players and made six buys at the auction. Their big buys were English all-rounder Moeen Ali, uncapped all-rounder K Gowtham and Cheteshwar Pujara. The buys seem to have plugged in a lot of holes and filled in the gaps in the side and it now looks like CSK could challenge the likes of the Mumbai Indians (MI) for the title once again.
We predict the playing XI of Chennai Super Kings for the next season.
Openers: Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis
Uncapped batsman Ruturaj Gaikwad was in breathtaking form towards the end of last year’s IPL after being given a chance at the top of the order. The Maharashtra batsman was a revelation as he struck three half-centuries in a row to help CSK finish on a strong note. He will thus be expected to open the batting again this year. Along with him, it will be South African veteran Faf du Plessis without doubt.
CSK also have backups in the form of Robin Uthappa who was signed in the trade window from Rajasthan Royals (RR) on an all-cash deal. There is also the option of opening with Cheteshwar Pujara or Moeen Ali though the duo could also play in the middle order as is the case with Uthappa. Tamil Nadu’s opening duo N Jagadeesan and C Hari Nishanth are also solid backups.
Middle-Order: Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu and MS Dhoni
CSK’s middle-order is likely to be filled completely by Indians. Although Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu and MS Dhoni are big names, the trio’s form will be a cause for concern and how the three perform might as well end up defining CSK’s season. Having said that, the very presence of Raina would be a huge boost to the batting especially because he is a left-hander and the left-right combinations tend to unsettle bowlers.
With regard to backups, once again, the likes of Uthappa, Pujara and Ali can all play in the middle order.
All-Rounders: Moeen Ali, Ravindra Jadeja, Sam Curran
CSK look very well-equipped in the all-rounders department. Two of the shining sparks for the side last season were southpaws Ravindra Jadeja and Sam Curran who excelled with their all-round displays but particularly with the bat. This season, they will be helped out by new acquisition Moeen Ali who could come in before them, adding to the batting depth of a side that already bats very deep.
Backups in this regard would be Mitchell Santner and new signing K Gowtham who are both finger-spinning all-rounders that can replace either Ali or Jadeja in case of an injury or due to poor form. For Curran, the like-for-like replacement would be Dwayne Bravo who has been struggling with fitness as of late.
Bowlers: Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar and Imran Tahir
The Indian bowling options are a no-brainer for CSK. They have been well-served by Deepak Chahar who is supremely effective with his swing bowling and Shardul Thakur who has a knack for picking up wickets. The No. 11 player would change depending on the pitch and conditions. If the pitch is a turning one, they would go for Imran Tahir which would lead to three spinners playing. If they decide to go with two spinners, they would go with Lungi Ngidi.
The backups here would be Josh Hazlewood who can play instead of Ngidi. Further, with regard to an Indian pacer, CSK have KM Asif and new signing Harishankar Reddy. For spin back-ups, they have R Sai Kishore, Karn Sharma as well as Bhagath Varma whom they picked up at the auction.