Like it or not, the IPL is happening this year, scheduled to begin on March 23. Amidst much speculation about the venue, it is now confirmed that it is happening in India. Predictable? Hardly, given the circumstances. For the uninitiated, general elections in India are scheduled to happen in April 2019.
Unlike the unpredictability regarding the venue and date of this year's edition of the IPL, there is anything but unpredictability in the strategy teams adapt for a T20 match. Low scoring thrillers are hardly the norm. Scores of 200+ are what is expected and what is considered "exciting". Even though the Rashid Khans and the Mujeebs try to enchant us with beautiful spells, the game still belongs to the batsmen, flashing blades which have edges as thick as the teams' owners wallets!
The only team to in fact have a knack of defending low scores are the SunRisers Hyderabad, having defended 150 or less in four games in the last edition of the IPL. Kane Williamson led the team with aplomb in the absence of David Warner and due credit should be given to the team management for holding on to the hottest asset in T20 currently: Rashid Khan.
2018 was the year Chennai Super Kings put a team of seasoned campaigners, with Dwayne Bravo rejoining the Super Kings and Shane Watson being picked despite the age factor. Ambati Rayudu, Watson, Bravo (remember the innings against Mumbai in the season opener?) were all noteworthy contributors with MS Dhoni pulling the strings, en route to a third IPL championship. The strategy behind picking this team was quite evident: the team was intended to be packed with all-rounders, all experienced and proven match winners.
A couple of unfortunate injuries, mainly to Kedar Jadhav, led to this strategy not being executed, and definitely not to the extent the management would have imagined. Additionally, with Shardul Thakur not being such a shrewd pick, going for consistently over 9 runs per over in all but two matches he played, was definitely the chink in the armor for the team.
Batsmen had delivered for CSK big time in 2018, having chased down totals 9 times successfully out of the 11 times they were set a target. They successfully defended 2 out of the 5 times they have batted first, both being scores of more than 180 (182 against SRH and 204 against RR respectively).
For 2019, CSK team management has predominantly decided to retain the winning combination: highlighted by the fact that they have made only two purchases in this year's auction. Mohit Sharma's purchase is evident of the fact that one of Shardul Thakur or Deepak Chahar would not be regular starters anymore. Mohit would provide the middle-over squeeze and an option in the death overs as well, should Bravo prove costly.
Another purchase, the lesser known Chaitanya Bishnoi, is another allrounder from Haryana, an ideal back-up for Jadeja (both are lower-middle batsmen and left arm orthodox bowlers). A significant shot in the arm for CSK in 2019 would be the availability of Faf du Plessis from the beginning of the tournament, having missed more than half of the matches in the last edition.
If things go to plan, 2019 would be the year where CSK would pull off an SRH, albeit with more panache. The mantra would be to control the run flow in the middle overs and more control at the death, where Bravo had faltered on a couple of occasions in the last season. Bravo, Watson, Faf and David Willey would be expected to fill in the four foreign spots in the XI.
Mohit in place of Shardul would be the only change in an otherwise much-similar line up with Jadhav hopefully back in the line up (read Harbhajan Singh on the bench). Mohit's slower balls are apparently worth ₹50,000,000, as the CSK think tank expects slower balls as the solution to slowing the opponent's run rate.
Batting alone wouldn't be the mainstay of CSK anymore, it might be another asset of the Super Kings from Chennai, with seasoned campaigners, both in the starting XI and on the bench as well!
Captain and Wicket Keeper: Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Batsmen: Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis
All-rounders: Shane Watson, Dwayne Bravo, David Willey, Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav
Bowlers: Mohit Sharma, Deepak Chahar
Follow Sportskeeda for all the updates on IPL news, IPL schedule, points table, live scores, fantasy tips and stats.Published 15 Jan 2019, 20:30 IST