Collectively consistent performances put up by their batting and bowling units have prompted West Indian legend Brian Lara to term MS Dhoni's as the 'team to beat'.
Speaking on Star Sports after CSK romped to a seven-wicket win over David Warner's Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), Brian Lara highlighted the importance of all-round contributions to the team.
“I think they are the team to beat at the moment. They don’t have big somebody like an Andre Russell who is going to go out there and score you a 50 in 15 balls but they have got a team, which is most important," said the West Indies legend.
CSK's Faf du Plessis (270 runs) and Ruturaj Gaikwad (192 runs) have been the most consistent opening pair of the tournament so far along with DC's Shikhar Dhawan (265 runs) and Prithvi Shaw (187 runs).
While the South African veteran became the new IPL Orange Cap holder thanks to his 56-run knock against SRH last night, Gaikwad has hit a purple patch after failing in the first three matches.
The 24-year-old starred against David Warner's men, sharing a 129-run stand with Faf and winning the 'Man of the Match' award for his sparkling 75-run innings (44 balls).
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Crediting MS Dhoni for keeping faith in Gaikwad, Brian Lara described the latter's innings against SRH as beautiful.
"Beautiful. It’s unbelievable that when they started, they looked out of sorts. Especially Ruturaj, the way he started, his foot wasn’t moving properly. But MS Dhoni stuck with him, he stuck with the opening partnership which is great. And they are laying the foundation now. They did not look disturbed at all at any point of time today," said Brian Lara.
If CSK's top three fire, they can chase down any target: Brian Lara
CSK also seem to have struck gold with the acquisition of English all-rounder Moeen Ali at this year's auction.
While he's been more than handy with the ball (4 wickets at an economy rate of 6.64), it is Moeen's attacking batting at No.3 that has made sure CSK don't lose the impetus in the middle overs.
The elegant left-hander has smashed 148 runs in 5 innings at a strike-rate of 155.79, which is the third-best in the tournament so far amongst batsmen who have scored at least 100 runs (behind Ravindra Jadeja's 184.75 and AB de Villiers' 174.36).
Praising the impact of CSK's top three batsmen, Lara believes that no target is too big for their batting line-up with big hitters like Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Sam Curran and captain MS Dhoni to follow.
“Their top 3 are important. You can’t leave out Moeen Ali as well. If they bat well, they look like they can chase any kind of target on good batting tracks. And if their bowlers are doing well on good bowling tracks, then they still have a batting unit to survive it," finished Brian Lara.