Chennai Super Kings have opted to go heavy on spin bowling in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 season. The team will once again be under the leadership of former India captain MS Dhoni who helped the team to glory on several occasions in the past. The 2010 and 2011 champions are making a comeback to the money spinning blockbuster league after being suspended for a period of two years.
The franchise retained MS Dhoni alongside star players Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja to create the base of the side that saw them play for the former champions for eight seasons in a row. At the Bengaluru auction, they picked up some more of their former past players in Faf du Plessis, Dwayne Bravo and Murali Vijay.
In addition, Australian all-rounder Shane Watson, Harbhajan Singh and Ambati Rayudu were also bought this season that make them look like a side rich in experience and gloss. The team under coach Stephen Fleming will be hoping to get sustainable rewards this term in IPL 11 and move on from the two-year suspension that brought a lot of gloom.
Here is the analysis of the Chennai team that will play under the stewardship of MS Dhoni.
Batsmen: Murali Vijay and veteran all-rounder Shane Watson will likely open the innings for the side. Vijay missed last season’s edition and will hope to make his presence felt atop in the side. He had a decent outing in 2016 for Kings XI Punjab scoring 453 runs in 14 matches.
The middle order looks solid with Faf du Plessis, Dhoni and Raina aiming to consolidate and be the side’s backbone. Dhoni and Raina especially have given the CSK fans many special memories over the years and have the power to accelerate according to the demand of the situation. Raina has made a return to the Indian side for the three-match series against South Africa and has been in rich form in the recently concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
With Kedar Jadhav and Ambati Rayudu in the side as well, they have options a plenty to support the trio. Delhi’s 25-year-old batsman Dhruv Shorey is an interesting prospect considering his performances in the domestic T20s helping his side win the title recently.
A look at Raina and Dhoni’s IPL record.
Raina: Matches 161, Runs 4540, Best 100, Average 34.14, S/R 139.05
Dhoni: Matches 159, Runs 3561, Best 70, Average 37.88, S/R 136.75
Besides opening the innings, former Australian all-rounder Watson will be the key player when rolling his arms for the side. Over the years he has played for several teams in the IPL and has a positive record. The 36-year-old has been a leader for the Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash League (BBL) and has been aiding the youngsters. One will expect him to have a similar role at CSK.
Watson: Matches 102, Runs 2622, Best 104, Average 31.21, S/R 138.66, Wickets 86, Best 4/29
Besides Watson, Dwayne Bravo will also add to the impetus in the side. The West Indian veteran was a revelation for CSK in his prime and fans will be hoping to see him come out all guns blazing when he dons the yellow jersey. Bravo has been plying his trade recently in the BBL for Melbourne Renegades.
Also Ravindra Jadeja boasts of being another high-profile all-rounder in the side and recently he hasn’t played much limited overs cricket for India with focus lying on youth.
Bowlers: Chennai have gone heavy on spin with Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh and Mitchell Santner. Tahir has enjoyed success as a bowler in the IPL off late and will be an interesting prospect given his variations. Meanwhile, Harbhajan’s experience will be handy for the side especially with the player enjoying a lot of success with Mumbai Indians over the years.
Harbhajan Singh: Matches 136, Wickets 127, Best 5/18, Economy 6.96
Mitchell Santner is the pick of the auctions for CSK with the Kiwi international excelling for his team in his last tour of India. Also Karn Sharma fills up as the fourth notable spinner in the side.
In the pace department India’s Shardul Thakur and South Africa’s rising star Lungi Ngidi hold the key for the side. England’s Mark Wood recently featured against Australia in the ODI series and is another bargain player they have in their kitty besides Rajasthan’s Deepak Chahar. The 25-year-old played a key role for his state in the recently concluded T20 tourney.
Weaknesses: The team looks pretty aged with several big players above the age of 30. Dhoni’s back-up Sam Billings hasn’t quite impressed in the format and he could hardly get a look in. The team could have gone for another noted pacer and an opening batsman especially if Vijay and Watson fail atop.
Dear Super Fans, thank you for all the patience, prayers, roars and whistles in the past two days! Just like all our matches, it was a nail-biting finish. Presenting the #PrideOf18. Here's wishing them a roaring summer ahead!🦁😍💛 #NewTeamSamePride #WhistlePodu #SummerIsComing pic.twitter.com/zqTXa3ZFTm
— Chennai Super Kings (@ChennaiIPL) January 28, 2018