IPL 2019: Know your team feat. Chennai Super Kings
Nine seasons, nine playoffs, seven finals, and three trophies - Chennai Super Kings have been the best team of the IPL. They are the only team to have reached the top 4 every single season they have played.
CSK have been the most successful team not just in terms of trophy count; their win percentage of 61.56% is also the highest for any T20 team around the globe. They have a positive head-to-head record against every team barring Mumbai Indians. If that was not enough, they also have two Champions League titles to their name.
The MS Dhoni-led side returned in 2018 after serving a two-year suspension, and produced one of their best performances till date. The fairy-tale comeback was completed in style when they lifted their third title at the Wankhede, beating SRH.
The win percentage of 68.75% in 2018 was also their best in any season (along with the 2011 season). The 2018 title was even more special because of the fact that the average age of the team was 31, and hardly anyone gave them a chance before the start of the tournament.
Coming to the upcoming IPL 2019 season, the yellow brigade went into the auctions with almost all bases covered, and bought only Mohit Sharma and Ruturaj Gaikwad. They were one of the most settled sides going into the auctions along with Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Here is a look at the complete squad:
Retained: MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Deepak Chahar, KM Asif, Karn Sharma, Dhruv Shorey, Faf du Plessis, M Vijay, Ravindra Jadeja, Sam Billings, Mitchell Santner, David Willey, Dwayne Bravo, Shane Watson, Lungi Ngidi, Imran Tahir, Kedar Jadhav, Ambati Rayudu, Harbhajan Singh, N Jagadeesan, Shardul Thakur, Monu Kumar, Chaitanya Bishnoi.
Released: Mark Wood, Kanishk Seth, Kshitiz Sharma
Bought: Mohit Sharma, Ruturaj Gaikwad
The team holds the same look as last year, with the major addition being Mohit Sharma - who will be expected to handle the death overs. Also, the management would hope to get the services of Kedar Jadhav for the full season this time.
Areas of strength
The top order looks settled with Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu, and Faf du Plessis as the backup opener. Suresh Raina, Dhoni, Sam Billings and Jadhav make a formidable middle order, with each of them capable of shifting gears at will.
The tradition of filling the squad with all-rounders and utility players continues with Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Mitchell Santner, Karn Sharma and David Willey in the side.
The bowling attack will be spearheaded by Lungi Ngidi and Deepak Chahar, and also consists of experienced campaigners like Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh, Shardul Thakur and Mohit Sharma.
CSK are one of the sides that will be the least affected due to player unavailability for World Cup preparations, with only Du Plessis, Willey and Ngidi likely to miss a certain part of the season.
The major strength lies in the experience of the side. As we all know, the wrong side of the 30s is the right side of experience. CSK proved that last year and will be eager to repeat the same this year too. Their immense experience makes them a team which hardly crumbles under pressure.
As Jadeja said on being asked about the difference between CSK and others, other teams panic while CSK do not. Their nerves of steel have been the trademark of the Super Kings over the years, winning games from virtually unwinnable situations numerous times.
They are a side who will never blink first. You have to earn your wins against a team like CSK, because they are not a team to succumb to pressure or commit errors.
Also, like every season, CSK possess a side filled with multi-dimensional players. They always carry a team which can produce at least 6-8 overs from the top 6 and 30-50 runs from the bottom 5 every game. This wide variety of options accompanied by Dhoni's street-smart captaincy make them a team impossible to outwit.
Areas of weakness
Going into the tournament, CSK hold a formidable look and are one of the strongest sides on paper. The only weakness, however, will be the lack of agility on the field. Just like last year, CSK have to compromise on fielding standards to accommodate experience.
Moreover, with most players being in their 30s, injury concerns loom large for CSK. Though there are able backups for most slots, injuries to first-choice players are something they can least afford in the quest for their fourth title.
Apart from these, there hardly seems any real weakness in the squad. They have a team to beat any team in any conditions.
Probable XI: Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Sam Billings / David Willey / Mitchell Santner, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar, Mohit Sharma / Shardul Thakur, Lungi Ngidi
Tournament Prediction: A place in the playoff is a minimum, with high chances of defending the title.