The Chennai outfit, under M.S. Dhoni, will want to banish memories of a disastrous 2020 and perform in a manner befitting its status as three-time champion
Hauling yourself up from a hole is never easy. It not just examines the strength and flexibility of your frame as you try to emerge from the dark pit but also asks questions of your character.
Chennai Super Kings, following a disastrous 13th edition, finds itself in a similar situation.
It has to plug the holes that punctured its campaign the last time around and present a fresh outfit that can land weighty blows.
CSK has the ability to hit back under its charismatic skipper M.S. Dhoni. And do so hard.
Addressing the issue
Batting was a major problem area for CSK last season and the franchise has addressed the issue.
Crucially, Suresh Raina, the franchise’s most successful batsman, is back. His shock departure ahead of the last IPL hurt the side. The left-handed Raina at No. 3 will provide the innings the momentum it requires.
But then, he hasn’t played much cricket of late. In fact, several CSK cricketers suffer from the same drawback and this is a worry for the franchise.
Simulating match situations and the CSK players dividing themselves into two teams in practice games are two quick-fix solutions.
The smooth-stroking Ruturaj Gaikwad, a ‘find’ for CSK last season, could open with the more explosive Moeen Ali.
One of the two big buys along with K. Gowtham for CSK this season — both off-spinning all-rounders — Moeen will also lend variety to the attack and be handy against southpaws.
CSK has roped in the experienced heavy hitter Robin Uthappa. He adds value to the side along with the strokeful Ambati Rayudu.
It will be interesting where CSK slots Faf du Plessis, among Dhoni’s favourites for his commitment. He could be asked to surface in the middle-order and shore it up in the event of a crisis.
And Dhoni’s form will be critical for CSK. He is someone who can surprise the doubters.
The pulling out of Aussie paceman Josh Hazlewood is a blow; Lungi Ngidi too will miss early games. However, Sam Curran and Dwayne Bravo are capable seamers who can also lend batting depth.
And the Indian duo of Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur are wicket-taking pacemen.
Mitchell Santner, the left-arm spinning all-rounder, can be used better by CSK. Imran Tahir and Karn Sharma are the leg-spinners.
CSK is a well rounded side but the wheels have to move in cohesion.
Sam Curran: An impact player, the 22-year-old Curran can leave the opposition bleeding. A left-arm swing bowler who operates with verve and an attacking lower middle-order batsman whose astonishing 95 not out for England almost derailed India in the recent ODI series decider. He’s got shock value.