IPL 2019 Preview: Chennai Super Kings


Returning from their two year suspension last season, Chennai Super Kings wasted no time and delivered their third title equaling the record held by Mumbai Indians. Now the Chennai based franchise will look to bag a record fourth title with their new recruits.

Image Courtesy: Cricbuzz

The first thing that comes to everyone’s mind when asked about Chennai Super Kings is consistency. Barring the two seasons the franchise did not participate, the side has reached the knockout stage in every other season.

Not many would have hoped for the side to deliver immediately after arriving from a suspension. But their signings of last season proved to be a hit as they peaked at the right time to lift their third title.

All credit to the side’s performance throughout the years ultimately boils down to the team management for retaining the core of the team right from the very beginning. Being led by a champion in the name of MS Dhoni has also been a major boon to the side.

MS Dhoni’s view of the game from behind the wickets is something that cannot be matched and has worked wonders for CSK. Even though he has fallen down the ranks when it comes to power hitting in the recent years, he usually tends to bring in his A game when the tournament begins.

Also the other person who has stuck around with Dhoni since 2008 is Suresh Raina. Continuing to add valuable support to the team, Raina is currently the league’s leading run scorer having amassed over 400 runs for CSK in almost every season. Added with him are the likes of the ever dependable Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo.

Thus continuing with their trend over the years, CSK retained majority of their squad and included very few signings this season. The side has so far never seen a major revamp and have always instilled their faith in the core group.

With all the players being retained, CSK went into the auction having room to sign only Indian players. And they came out with two signings, bagging Mohit Sharma and Ruturaj Gaikwad for a total of 5.20 crores.

Choosing a squad to field for the first match vs RCB on Saturday wouldn’t be a difficult job for Dhoni. In fact it would not even be a surprise if he fielded a side similar to the one that played the finals last season.

There will be a plenty of options to choose from when it comes to the opening slots. Shane Watson is in prime from after finishing the recently concluded PSL as the leading run scorer. Faf du Plessis too isn’t far behind having recorded a century vs Sri Lanka last week. Meanwhile the likes Murali Vijay will fancy his chances after having a good outing with Tamil Nadu in the Syed Mustaq Ali trophy.

Middle order will be fixed as the trio of Raina, Billings and Rayudu will want to continue from where they left off. Having opened many games for CSK last season, Rayudu will once again don the opening role until du Plessis returns from national commitments.

Kedar Jadhav missed the entire 2018 edition after a hamstring injury came to haunt him on the opening day. This time around he will look to make use of the opportunities he gets, keeping one eye on the world cup that follows two months later.

Last year’s auction saw the side pick as many as 4 front line spinners hoping they could use them to the fullest in the home conditions. Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances their home games were shifted to Pune. Eventually this proved to be a blessing in disguise as their pace attack of Chahar, Ngidi and Thakur came to life and produced some  scintillating spells.

With the side’s home games shifted back to Chennai and with Santner expected to play a part this season, it will be difficult to predict which spinner will get the nod. Jadeja’s additional ability to send the ball out of the park means that he will see his name being a part of the playing 11. Who makes the cut from the likes of Habhajan Singh, Imran Tahir, Mitchell Santner and Karan Sharma is the major talking point.

One region where the side will look for improvements is the death bowling. Even though they have the batting power to chase any target put before them, the leakage of runs in the final few overs has been a cause of concern for the boys in yellow. With the squad CSK have under their disposal, their only intention will be to reach yet another knockout stage and bag the all elusive title.

PREDICTED XI: Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (c&wk), Kedar Jadav, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Mitchell Santner, Deepak Chahar, Lungi Ngidi, Mohit Sharma.

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