Aakash Chopra believes Chennai Super Kings might be slow off the blocks in IPL 2021. On Tuesday, the cricketer-turned commentator highlighted three major challenges MS Dhoni's team may face this season.
In a video posted on his Facebook account, Aakash Chopra noted that most of CSK's top performers haven't played competitive cricket for quite some time, which might pose them a huge problem at the start of the season.
Skipper Dhoni and Suresh Raina retired in August last year and haven't featured in domestic cricket since. Ambati Rayudu last played in IPL 2020 and Ravindra Jadeja, CSK's best fielder and all-rounder, is making a comeback from injury.
“The likes of Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Mahendra Singh Dhoni haven’t played either international or competitive cricket. Ravindra Jadeja has been out of action for a while due to injury. So, four out of seven top performers don’t have a good form and competitive cricket game time. They may play Robin Uthappa and Ruturaj Gaikwad who have decent numbers in domestic cricket. Faf du Plessis will also be fine. But what about the remaining four? That will be a challenge. Hitting the ground running is a challenge,” said Aakash Chopra.
CSK traded Robin Uthappa from Rajasthan Royals earlier this year. The wicketkeeper-batsman has shown a rich vein of form in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, collecting 377 runs at an average of 75.40. Ruturaj Gaikwad also scored a brilliant 109-ball hundred against Himachal Pradesh in the domestic tournament.
Aakash Chopra's second reason for concern is that CSK will play their first 5 games at Mumbai's Wankhade Stadium. He argued that Mumbai favors speedsters and hard-hitters, and that CSK's spin-heavy lineup might fall short of the challenge.
"They have 5 matches in Mumbai. And in Mumbai's Wankhade favors pacers more. Pacers take 70% of wickets here and spinners don't have much to do. Chennai is a slight spin-heavy team and their fast bowling doesn't have much heft... Also, when you play in Mumbai, you won’t have the privilege to take your time and play. If the team wants to score big – like a score of 180 – all the top batters need to hit continuously from the beginning. And that is something I see going against them. This first leg might hurt them badly and they might not start very well,” added Aakash Chopra.
If Suresh Raina doesn't perform, CSK will struggle: Aakash Chopra
The third and last challenge Aakash Chopra highlighted was the Suresh Raina factor. The southpaw didn't play a single game in IPL 2020 due to off-field reasons and CSK struggled in his absence, finishing 7th on the points table. Aakash Chopra feels that for CSK to have a good season the southpaw will have to hit the ground running.
“I would suggest CSK promote Ravindra Jadeja up the order and let him bat a bit more. Mahendra Singh Dhoni shall play well too. But Raina is the critical cog. If he hits the ground running, CSK will be fine. And if not, since he hasn’t played for quite a long time now, CSK, I feel, will struggle this season and that’s not a good thing,” said Aakash Chopra.
The 3-time champions will kickstart their campaign against the Delhi Capitals on April 10.
Find the full IPL 2021 time table here.