The team which has reached most playoffs had a horror IPL in 2020 which started with a covid attack and ended in a spot outside top 5 . However towards the close in last edition , they reeled off few wins in a row , discovered a fine Indian opener , and looked ominous yet again .
This year they are back with the 2nd most prolific player of CSK history , Suresh Raina who withdrew last year at the final moment due to covid reasons.
Another CSK legend Shane Watson has retired after last edition hence a vacuum has apparently been created but with captain cool at the helm things should get sorted out .
The batting looks to have solidity and most unlikely to collapse whatever the scenario. Gaikwad & Duplessis are most likely to open . Faf has been a warhorse and Ruturaj Gaikwad was CSK’s biggest discovery end of 2020 edition. Another warhorse Raina with Rayudu , Moeen Ali and Dhoni may comprise of middle order with Uthappa of KKR vintage waiting in the wings . Thus it will be a nice mix of left right combinations and that is replenished further by Ravindra Jadeja who can bat anywhere . Thus batting has a mixture of power and solidity .
The bowling looks as good with Depak Chahar , Hazelwood , Shardul Thakur and Sam Curran to partner allrounder Ravindra Jadeja with massively good backups like Ngidi , Santner , allrounder Dwayne Bravo and Santner good enough to be in the top XI . Dhoni has always maintained great reserve bench and hence the first XI is rotated with respect to conditions.
C Gowtham has been bought with a big price tag (9 crs) . He is a belligerent hitter and a useful power play bowler. Remains to be seen how Gowtham is used in CSK XI and whether he finds a regular spot in the XI.
Another question in everyone’s minds . In with capacity will Cheteswar Pujara be used in CSK ? He was clearly an emotional buy in auction with due respect to his stellar contribution in the triumphant Australia series. Pujara last played a match in IPL in 2014.
A big pool of bowling arsenal to choose from with respect to conditions. Batting a mixture of solidity and power hitting. Above all the captaincy of ” Chanakya” MS Dhoni. Decent group of young Indian players in reserves .Also Ravindra Jadeja will be fresh after a long injury layoff.
The batting lacks a consistent power hitter . A job which Shane Watson did during his tenure very well at the top till age caught up with him. Also the batting form of Raina and Dhoni will be in question since they are coming into IPL with hardly much cricket
Gaikwad , Duplessis , Raina , Rayudu , Moeen/ Santner , Dhoni , Jadeja , Sam Curran , Shardul , Deepak Chahar , Hazelwood/ Bravo/ Gowtham.
Dhoni tends to play with the conditions hence there will never be a settled XI as the bowling gets rotated with respect to opposition strengths .
CSK to play most of their matches in Mumbai & Delhi followed by Bangaluru and Kolkata . While Mumbai & Kolkata pitches are tilted towards pace , Delhi and Bangaluru will be more batting oriented with more support for spin compared to pace. Hence team may use faster bowlers like Hazlewood & Ngidi in Mumbai & Kolkata and may look at ageing Dwayne Bravo in slower surfaces at Delhi
MS Dhoni, 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.