It's the battle between youth and experience, as the Delhi Capitals are set to take on the Chennai Super Kings in their next game of the IPL. With the Capitals having gotten away with a narrow win against the Kings XI Punjab, they will use the result to fuel their confidence against the Super Kings.
CSK, on the other hand, have just been handed a loss by the Rajasthan Royals. The game between the finalists of the inaugural IPL did not end well for the Super Kings, as they fell 16 runs short of the total posted by the Royals.
While the MS Dhoni-led squad isn't in any trouble, their previous game did bring to light certain things that the team need to fix.
We explore the areas that the 3-time IPL champions have to address.
#1) MS Dhoni's batting position
Starting off with the elephant in the room! Over the years, we've learnt that it is best not to doubt the cricketing strategy of MS Dhoni.
However, in the absence of Suresh Raina, CSK (and cricket) fans were expecting their 'Thala' to don the number 3 spot. Given his experience and that he started off his career as a number 3 batsman, it would not only be useful for CSK for Dhoni to play in that spot but would also be Dhoni's IPL career coming full circle.
In contrast, the highly successful veteran has been coming in lower down the order at number 7; even sending the likes of Sam Curran, Ravindra Jadeja and debutant Ruturaj Gaikwad ahead of him. The move has certainly raised questions not only from fans but also former cricketers and leading cricket analysts.
Recommendation: While the move could be a way to prepare the CSK batsmen for a post-Dhoni CSK, a batsman with the experience and caliber of MS Dhoni should ideally be batting no lower than number 5.
He performed at his best for CSK over the last 2 seasons at number 4. The CSK think-tank, including Dhoni himself, must take the call to bring him back up the order.
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#2) The selection of Piyush Chawla over Imran Tahir
In the last two matches, we've seen Piyush Chawla feature in the playing XI over the highly experienced Imran Tahir. While Chawla came good in CSK's first game against the Mumbai Indians, Sanju Samson ended up thrashing the former KKR leg-spinner for multiple sixes.
The question, however, isn't about Chawla's inclusion as much as it is about Tahir's exclusion.
Tahir, who has been a mainstay in the CSK squad ever since he was brought in, has been highly consistent for the Chennai franchise. What's befuddling is that the Purple cap holder of the 2019 IPL is finding himself warming the bench, in conditions that are strongly favorable to wrist spinners.
Recommendation: Piyush Chawla might have a bad performance to his name, but Imran Tahir should be included in the squad regardless of that fact. CSK can rest Lungi Ngidi, who has been expensive and also bring in an Indian seamer such as Shardul Thakur if they feel the need for it.
#3) Murali Vijay's spot in the team
When Murali Vijay first played for CSK, he impressed everyone with his classy stroke-play and managed to send the ball to the fence with ease. The same, however, cannot be said about the Tamil Nadu batsman in recent times.
The 36-year-old has not had a good IPL season in a long time, and the team management will surely be watching. Vijay's homecoming has not panned out too well so far, as he has only managed a meager 22 runs off of 29 deliveries in the 2 matches played.
The opener has not looked confident, and if the same form continues, he is sure to find himself on the bench at the business-end of the tournament.
While CSK don't have a solid option for Vijay's replacement, they can either test their domestic batsmen or try something unconventional.
Recommendation: CSK might have to stick with Vijay for a little longer. If he still fails to get runs under his belt, they could either try out young local talent Narayan Jagadeesan or take an unconventional approach by making Sam Curran open. Remember, Curran has opened for the Kings XI Punjab in the past and also has a 23 ball half-century to his name.