IPL 2018 Preview: Chennai Super Kings

Overview:

It’s hard to miss the sheer emotion around the return of Chennai Super Kings. Over the first 8 seasons of the IPL, most teams were successful in building strong fan bases and CSK were easily one of the most followed (if not the most followed) teams in the competition. Having gone back to some of their old warhorses, CSK’s auction strategy was very clear from the outset – to get as many old hands back as possible. And therefore, CSK today reminds one of the team from a few years ago including Dhoni, Raina, Jadeja, Bravo, Vijay and Faf du Plessis.

Strengths:

The core strength of CSK lies in its Indian batting which involves some very experienced IPL cricketers like Raina, Dhoni, Vijay, Rayudu and Jadhav. The firepower of Shane Watson at the top of the order and the option of using Faf du Plessis to either to open the innings or to play at number 4, combined with the finishing abilities of Dwayne Bravo makes CSK one of the most solid batting lineups of the tournament. The team also consists of some strong spin bowling options in Harbhajan Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Imran Tahir and Karn Sharma which should hold them in good stead especially at the Chepauk where spin has always played an important part in the past.

Weaknesses:

The clear weakness that stares at you in this CSK squad is the lack of quality Indian pace bowling options. Apart from Shardul Thakur, the other possible Indian pacers include the likes of KM Asif, Deepak Chahar and Monu Kumar. And while these young guns might be exciting prospects, they lack the experience of playing on the big stage. The overseas pace options must do the job for captain Dhoni and that also includes only Lungi Ngidi and Mark Wood. CSK will once again depend a lot on Bravo’s 4 overs and might get lucky if Watson can contribute with the ball as well.

Player to watch out for:

The player to watch out for at CSK this season has to be MS Dhoni. Coach Stephen Fleming has announced that Dhoni will bat relatively higher up the order and that could indicate playing him at number 4. Apart from his batting though, it will be very interesting to see Dhoni the captain once again at work, shuffling around his bowlers, making fine adjustments in his field placements and chirping instructions to his spinners from behind the stumps. Dhoni the captain will be the one to watch out for this season.

Predicted Starting XI:

  1. Murali Vijay
  2. Shane Watson
  3. Suresh Raina
  4. MS Dhoni (C & WK)
  5. Ambati Rayudu
  6. Kedar Jadhav
  7. Dwayne Bravo
  8. Ravindra Jadeja
  9. Shardul Thakur
  10. Mark Wood
  11. Imran Tahir

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