Former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir has opined that Chennai Super Kings (CSK) captain MS Dhoni might find it difficult to create an immediate impact in IPL 2020. He reasoned that the talismanic skipper has been away from the game for more than a year and would thus take time to regain his form.
Gautam Gambhir, Sanjay Bangar and Irfan Pathan put forth their thoughts on the challenges in front of CSK during a discussion on the latest edition of the Star Sports' show Game Plan.
Gautam Gambhir was asked if we are likely to see MS Dhoni's vintage form in IPL 2020, and what the latter's role in the CSK batting lineup will be. He responded that although every captain is crucial to their team, MS Dhoni's job is even more critical because of the absence of the experienced duo of Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh.
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"Firstly, every captain's role is important for their franchise. But MS Dhoni's becomes more important because they don't have Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh, two players from their playing XI who had experience."
The former KKR captain wishes that MS Dhoni bats up the order for CSK so that he can regain his form, which is something that might benefit his captaincy as well.
"I would want to see at what number MS Dhoni bats because the better you bat, the better decisions you can take as a captain. So his form is going to be very important and I will want to see him start at No.3 or No.4 so that he can get his form."
Gautam Gambhir reasoned that MS Dhoni has not played competitive cricket for the last year, which might make it difficult for the CSK captain to make an immediate impact in IPL 2020.
"He has not played cricket at all for the last one year, so to suddenly come to a tournament like the IPL and start scoring runs and make an impact sometimes becomes difficult. So the higher he bats, it would become easier."
Sanjay Bangar on CSK's likely batting order in Suresh Raina's absence
Sanjay Bangar was asked how MS Dhoni is likely to resolve the No. 3 dilemma for CSK in Suresh Raina's absence. The former Indian batting coach replied that CSK are likely to field Murali Vijay in the playing XI to compensate for Raina's absence.
"Raina has been a key player for CSK. With him not being there, I feel MS Dhoni will make a small change. Murali Vijay, who has been associated with the team for a long time and has been on the bench and is an experienced player."
Bangar reasoned that Vijay is an experienced player who is proficient against both spin and pace bowling.
"He is a good opening batsman, who plays well against the spinners and even against the fast bowlers, has a lot of experience of IPL cricket."
"So, I feel Murali Vijay will open with Shane Watson in the initial stages and Faf du Plessis will come at No.3 with Rayudu at No.4, Dhoni at No.5 and Kedar Jadhav at No.6."
Irfan Pathan was asked how big a loss Harbhajan Singh and Suresh Raina's absence can prove to be for CSK, as they do not have an off-spinner who can take the ball away from the left-handers.
He responded that it will be a huge concern for the Chennai-based franchise, despite the presence of leg-spinners like Piyush Chawla, Imran Tahir and Karn Sharma who could deliver googlies against the southpaws.
"Chennai Super Kings can face a lot of difficulties because of the absence of Harbhajan Singh. They have very good spinners in Piyush Chawla, Imran Tahir and Karn Sharma but they are all wrist-spinners who have the googly but they are not off-spinners."
Irfan Pathan signed off by stating that although MS Dhoni is a very shrewd captain, who might find a solution to the problem, he is unlikely to find an ideal replacement for Harbhajan Singh.
"So to replace Harbhajan Singh, we all know MS Dhoni is like Chacha Chaudhary and will find some or the other solution but they will not get a like-to-like replacement."
CSK have other prominent spinners like Ravindra Jadeja and Mitchell Santner apart from Piyush Chawla, Imran Tahir and Karn Sharma, but they do not have anyone whose stock delivery goes away from the left-handers. In such a situation, they might have to rely on the part-time off-spin of Kedar Jadhav and Murali Vijay.