IPL 2019: Why the Chennai Super Kings could start as favorites once again
Chennai Super Kings are the only team to have made it to the knockouts in every season that they have played. And every player who has come and played for CSK has learned a lot - be it a young player or a player with loads of experience.
Shane Watson, who helped the Super Kings win the final of IPL 2018 with his amazing ton, said that MS Dhoni was one of the major reasons for his brilliant performances throughout the season, and that Dhoni helped him to rediscover himself.
Now coming to this season, CSK have almost the same squad as they had in 2018; they bought only two players in the auction this time. As we have seen in the past, the Super Kings always like to keep the core group of the team the same, and just make a few little changes here and there before the start of each new season.
The yellow army, who have won the championship three times - the joint most for any team along with Mumbai Indians - would be looking to outscore the Rohit Sharma-led team this season.
While many teams this season would be facing problems with foreign players because many of them are likely to go back mid-way due to the 2019 World Cup, that is not the case with Chennai. The only big player who could possibly leave Chennai Super Kings midway through the tournament is Faf du Plessis. And Du Plessis leaving the squad might not be too big a blow for CSK as they would still have Ambati Rayudu and Watson to give a strong solid start to their innings.
They also have a very strong middle order with Suresh Raina, Kedar Jadhav, Dhoni himself, Sam Billings and Ravindra Jadeja in it. Raina has been the pillar of CSK's batting since the inception of the tournament, and would be expected to come good again in 2019.
The spin bowling of CSK, meanwhile, is looking stable with Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Santner, Imran Tahir and Karn Sharma in it. This spin attack would be very useful for their home games to be played at Chepauk.
The pace attack also looks good with Lungi Ngidi, Dwayne Bravo, David Willey and Mohit Sharma. Mohit returns to CSK this year after a gap of a few years, and he would bring in a lot of variations to trouble the opposition batsmen - especially at the death.
All in all, Chennai Super Kings look like a balanced side with a lot of experience, and being led by none other than the legendary Dhoni. That suggests they might start as the favorites to win the title again this year.
This might also be the last year we see Dhoni in yellow as he would probably be retiring after the 2019 World Cup. So winning the championship would ideally be the perfect farewell gift for the 'Thala' of CSK.