The much awaited tournament Indian Premier League is finally knocking at the door and with IPL coming in just 10 days, it’s time we start making our playing 11s of every side. Not only as a fan of our respective sides but also as a cricket enthusiast, we love discussing what a playing 11 would be to begin with and that starts with making the strongest possible combination on paper. We are doing just the same thing in this series and we take a look at Chennai Super Kings to begin with.
CSK has been a team which doesn’t believe in making a lot of changes and that’s a reason why they have been so successful over the years. They back players, give them fair go irrespective of his performances and get the results eventually. However, due to how certain events which have transpired this year, they’d be forced to make some changes. Let’s discuss their playing 11 for the first match.
Out of the two openers, the place of Shane Watson is most secured. Watson despite not being able to give fruitful returns last year throughout the year, almost won them the final with 80 off 59 balls. He still scored 398 runs last year. In UAE though, he does not have that great record with 117 runs in 5 matches but everyone is aware of his capabilities as an opener. With Raina not available this year, at least in the beginning, Watson will have a major role to play at the top again.
Murali Vijay/Faf Du Plesis
There are a total of 3 options for the second opener slot and either of Murali Vijay, Ambati Rayudu or Faf Du Plesis can honestly play in this position depending on team’s requirements. For the time being, we go with Murali Vijay as the second opener and if CSK wants an overseas opener, then they can definitely go with Faf Du Plesis. Vijay didn’t play much in 2019, playing only 2 matches but this time he could go on to get more chances due to his experience of playing on slow wickets. Du Plesis won’t be a bad option either but that’d mean they will have to play with 3 Indian fast bowlers then.
Since the inception of IPL, number 3 for CSK has been the place of Mr IPL Suresh Raina but in his unavailability at least in the beginning of the competition has given Rayudu a chance to bat at 3. Rayudu has had two completely contrasting years with bat and now he’d love to repeat what he did in 2018 when he scored 602 runs compared to just 282 last year. The ability of playing spin well should come in handy for Rayudu on the slow surfaces of UAE.
One man everyone is excited to see is Mahendra Singh Dhoni who has not played any cricket since July last year and has announced his retirement from international cricket. The best position for him to bat in this CSK lineup would be number 4 where he could play both anchor inning and can be destructive as per the situation. Now that he has no pressure of playing international cricket, he could play with lot more freedom.
Kedar Jadhav at 5 fits perfectly for the team with 2 all rounders Jadeja and Bravo to follow. Although last year was a major disappointment for the Pune man where he scored only 162 runs in 14 matches, this year he would be hoping to contribute more for his side and not just with his bat but also with his slow unorthodox bowling.
As the CSK team management has already said, Jadeja is most likely to bat at 6 which will give him more batting exposure. Jadeja has been in good nick with the bat in last one and a half year and so it is imperative to use his batting skills. Jadeja didn’t contribute much with the bat in 2019 but he picked up 15 wickets in 16 matches and with the pitches this time offering some help to him, CSK would be expecting Jadeja the bowler to contribute more but Jadeja the batsman to contribute significantly as well.
Dwayne Bravo at 7 is the perfect bridge between batsmen and bowlers. He can bat and bowl both and he has been in great touch playing for Trinbago Knight Riders in the ongoing CPL. Although his form with ball has diminished as he could only pick up 11 wickets in IPL last year, he could come in very handy with his change of pace on UAE pitches. If he doesn’t show good form, Sam Curran and Mitchell Santner are the ideal like to like replacements for him.
Coming to the fast bowlers, Deepak Chahar had a very fine year in 2019 where he picked up 22 wickets in 17 matches but this year, he would be a little handicapped with the lack of swing with the new ball as the UAE pitches won’t support one. Chahar was one of those CSK members tested positive for COVID-19 but if he tests negative again once his quarantine period gets over, he’d be an obvious selection in this CSK side.
Since the IPL is not being played in Indi and you expect UAE pitches to be slow, CSK will revert back to it’s strength of playing 3 spinners and who else than veteran Piyush Chawla could be the perfect man to play this role? The experienced leg spinner has got the experience of playing in UAE where he picked up 5 wickets in 4 matches in 2014. Chawla will start on those spinner friendly wickets as the third spinner and anytime CSK will need a fast bowler, they will have Shardul Thakur as an option.
Tahir, one of the vital pillars of CSK side every year is almost certain to start the season in the opening game against MI. Tahir has shown good form in the CPL and with his team losing the semifinal, he will be joining CSK camp soon and his 6 days quarantine period will get over by the time IPL begins. Tahir was the purple cap winner last year with 26 wickets from 17 games.
Lungi Ngidi/KM Asif
South African Lungi Ngidi will provide CSK a good fast bowling option both in the powerplay and at the death. In his absence due to injury last year, CSK had struggled a lot with their death overs bowling and he might be able to plug that gap finally. Ngidi had played 7 matches in 2011 where he had taken 11 wickets. However, if CSK decides to play with Watson, Du Plesis, Bravo and Tahir as their four overseas options then Ngidi might have to sacrifice his place to a very talented KM Asif.