Why Chennai Super Kings will be the team to beat!
"And Chennai Super Kings are into the playoffs".
Something we have heard, again and again, over the years. The yellow army from Chennai holds the unique record of never going out of the tournament in the group stages.
Chennai Super Kings starts off this year's IPL with the opening match against Royal Challengers Bangalore on March 23rd. It is no surprise to note that they are the favourites to win the tournament this year too. After all, they are the only team in the history of IPL to successfully defend its trophy.
Team : Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Kedar Jadhav, Dwayne Bravo, Sam Billings, Imran Tahir, David Willey, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh/Karn Sharma/Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar/Mohit Sharma, Lungi Ngidi, Murali Vijay, Mitchell Santner, Dhruv Shorey, N Jagadeesan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Monu Kumar, KM Asif.
One of the most important reasons for their success over the years is their impeccable planning and execution over the squad selection. They have stuck to their plan since the beginning. While other clubs focussed on building a squad over a star player, CSK focussed more on a core group of players.
Stephen Fleming (Head coach), Mike Hussey (Batting coach) and Lakshmipathy Balaji (Bowling coach) have all played for the team and that too, under the leadership of MS Dhoni. I honestly think Stephen Fleming deserves applause for the way he has managed the team over the years. There is an understanding between the captain and the coaching staff which brings stability into the team.
This is an under-rated factor behind the team's success.
If one looks at the current squad, there is an incredible amount of experience present. The average age of the team was consistently above 30 in the last season. Many pundits claimed it to be a weakness of the team. The team proved them wrong by cruising towards the trophy. And the situation remains the same this time around too.
Every team has weaknesses and CSK's is their weak bowling unit. Apart from Ngidi, they don't have a capable wicket-taker and a death bowler among the midst. Sure, they have brought in Mohit Sharma, but he tends to be a risk. Another issue to be noted was that their fielding efforts were average last year.
And, with the World Cup around, players will have to be rotated. But this is something every squad will have to face.
Huge things are expected from Chennai Super Kings and so far, they have never managed to disappoint the fans. They will be expected to hit the ground running from the very first match. With MS Dhoni expected to retire after the World Cup, this could well be the last time we see him captaining a squad. He will be gunning towards signing off with a bang.