IPL 2020: Strongest probable playing XI for Chennai Super Kings
- CSK would be looking to join Mumbai Indians with four IPL titles.
- The lack of match practice for the experienced CSK superstars might be the biggest hurdle in their title quest.
Chennai Super Kings (CSK) are the most consistent team in the history of the Indian Premier League (IPL), having reached at least the playoffs or the knock-out stages in each of the 10 occasions they have been part of the league. The three-time champions would be looking to equal the record of Mumbai Indians by bagging their fourth title in the upcoming season of the IPL.
CSK's performance in the IPL is even more praiseworthy as they have managed to reach the final eight out of the ten times they have been a part of the tournament. Over the years, the Chennai-based team have tended to rely on their tried and tested experienced players to deliver the goods and this year is going to be no different.
Chennai Super Kings Squad for IPL 2020: MS Dhoni (C), M Vijay, Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Narayan Jagadeesan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Dwayne Bravo, Sam Curran, Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, KM Asif, Monu Kumar, Lungi Ngidi, Josh Hazlewood, Harbhajan Singh, Karn Sharma, Piyush Chawla, Imran Tahir, Mitchell Santner, Sai Kishore.
Although the CSK bowling seems to have all bases covered, especially with the plethora of spin-bowling options, it is the batting that might be an area of concern with a significant number of their major players coming from a long period in the wilderness. This season could be a difficult one for the Super Kings unless their experienced batsmen can strike form early in the tournament.
Keeping the above squad in mind, let us have a look at the best probable playing XI for the Chennai Super Kings.
#1 Openers (Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu)
CSK are likely to go with Faf du Plessis and Ambati Rayudu as their opening batting combination. Du Plessis is one of the few batsmen in the Chennai line-up with a recent hit at the international level. With Du Plessis no longer a certainty in the South African T20I team, a consistent run in this season of the IPL will keep him in the race for a spot in the Proteas' T20 World Cup squad.
Rayudu, who had announced his retirement after not being considered for the Indian team for the 2019 ODI World Cup, is also short of match practice after a mixed run at the domestic level. Coming on the back of a relatively unsuccessful IPL 2019, he would like to regain his touch and give his team a flying start.
CSK have a backup overseas opener in the form of Shane Watson, who has also played just a few matches in the Big Bash League and the Pakistan Super League with mixed results but can be tried if Du Plessis does not strike form in the initial stages of the league. Murali Vijay and Ruturaj Gaikwad could also be tried at the opening position, depending on Rayudu's form.
#2 Middle-Order (Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav)
The CSK management would be hoping that Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni will be able to reproduce their old magic at this season's IPL. Raina, who had an indifferent IPL last year, has been the mainstay of the Chennai batting line-up over the years and would look to get his touch early in the tournament with almost no cricket behind his back since the last IPL.
Dhoni, on the other hand, has not played since India's 2019 ODI World Cup semi-final loss to New Zealand. With the selectors and Indian coach Ravi Shastri clearly stating that Dhoni's form at the IPL could determine his comeback to the Indian team, Thala (as he is fondly known) would want to replicate his magic from last year's IPL.
Kedar Jadhav, who has lost his place in the Indian ODI line-up, is likely to take the other middle-order spot. He would be keen to have a consistent IPL to give a reminder to the Indian selectors of his all-round abilities even though age and fitness may not be on his side.
#3 All-rounders (Sam Curran, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo)
Sam Curran was the big buy for CSK at last year's IPL auction. He would have to play a significant role both as a wicket-taker with the new ball and as a finisher with the bat. Having not been retained by Kings XI Punjab even after a decent showing last year, he would like to enhance his growing reputation as a world-class all-rounder in all conditions.
Ravindra Jadeja has come up by leaps and bounds over the last year or so. Having contributed consistently for India both with the bat and the ball, he would like to continue in the same vein for CSK as well. He is one of the few Indian players in the CSK line-up who has played consistently since the last IPL and would like to make the best use of this experience.
Dwayne Bravo, although not the same champion all-rounder as earlier, would still command a place in the CSK line-up. With his batting abilities especially on the wane, he would play more as a bowler who can contribute a bit with the bat. Having made a comeback to the West Indies' T20I team recently, his performance in this year's IPL might decide his place in the national team's T20 World Cup squad with his place no longer a guarantee.
#4 Bowlers (Piyush Chawla, Deepak Chahar, Lungi Ngidi)
Piyush Chawla should be CSK's first-choice spinner, considering his experience and the team management's eagerness to buy him at the IPL auction last year. The wily leg-spinner had an excellent run for Gujarat at the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and would like to take full advantage of the spin-friendly Chepauk pitch. Apart from his prowess as a bowler, he can prove to be a handy batsman down the order. He is likely to be preferred over Imran Tahir, the highest wicket-taker in the last IPL, considering the balance of the team. Harbhajan Singh and Karn Sharma are the other spin bowling options at CSK's disposal, should the need arise, especially if they are looking to go with an extra spinner.
Deepak Chahar deserves a spot in the starting XI, considering his outstanding performances for both India and CSK over the last year. But the biggest concern would be the stress fracture he sustained on the lower back late last year which might put a question mark on his availability for the entire duration of the IPL. CSK have a worthy backup in the form of Shardul Thakur in such a scenario.
Lungi Ngidi, who had missed the last IPL due to an injury, will be hoping to replicate his outstanding performances in IPL 2018. The South African quick was in terrific form in the recent South Africa-Australia limited-overs series, and would like to continue with his wicket-taking spree. He would be expected to provide the firepower in an otherwise predominantly slow or medium pace attack. CSK will have the option of using the consistent Josh Hazlewood if Ngidi is not able to deliver the goods.
Published 22 Mar 2020, 12:32 IST