IPL 2021 Preview: Chennai Super Kings

Dhoni prepares for IPL14 (credit CSK twitter)

IPL Wins: 2010,2011, 2018

Coach: Stephen Fleming

Captain: MS Dhoni

2020 Lookback 

Chennai lost a huge player in Shane Watson due to retirement after the 2020 season, leaving a massive gap in the batting order. The brain’s trust at CSK has chosen to plug with Moeen Ali.

By far the oldest team in the competition, led by Indian legend MS Dhoni and including veteran South African Faf Du Plessis. CSK will want to prove senior players are just as effective.

The 2020 season was a disaster for CSK. The side finished second last and missed out on playoffs for the first time in the franchise’s history.

Key Players 

MS Dhoni: To say Dhoni is a superstar would be an understatement. Dhoni is one of the most famous and recognizable faces in India, and for a good reason. The 2011 world cup triumph was the beginning of a revolution in world cricket bringing India to the top, and Dhoni was the leader.

However, Dhoni will face his most challenging tasks in 2021, taking CSK back from the brink and into the playoffs once again.

While Dhoni’s overall IPL stats are amazing, 4632 runs at an average of 41, his 2020 season was not up to standard. Scoring only 200 runs in 2020 at only 25 as he often dropped himself down the order.

Dhoni must recognize that at the age of 39; his best years are now behind him. there is a chance 2021 is the last time we see Dhoni on the field. If CSK is to be competitive, Dhoni will not only have to captain and lead well but play a much more significant part with the bat.

Sam Curran: An underrated T20 player; he isn’t the fastest of bowlers and he isn’t the most powerful batsman. But as coach Stephen Fleming labeled him last year, he is a complete cricketer.

Curran became the Super King’s most crucial player in the 2020 IPL, the difference between winning and losing in many games. It seems Curran has now cemented his spot in the English T20 side. He will want to use that international experience to be once again vital for CSK.

While Curran is primarily seen as a bowler, his batting was the difference in IPL 2020. Being promoted to open in a few games, Curran was used as a pinch hitter by Dhoni. Last season only yielded 186 runs at 23, but it was how he went about scoring that made a difference. On top of this, his bowling will be key, swinging the new ball, last year managing 13 wickets at 26. For CSK to be successful, Curran will once again have to step up and play beyond his years.

Player to watch 

Moeen Ali: Having fallen out of favour with the England selectors in recent times, Ali will want to show he still has what it takes for international cricket.

England is the favourite for the T20 World Cup in November in India later this year. If Morgan’s men are to lift the trophy, Ali’s inclusion in the squad could play a big part, especially on Indian pitches. Interestingly the man’s spot he is aiming for in the England team belongs to his Super Kings teammate Sam Curran. Having batted in every position in the batting order throughout his career across the formats, Ali has the ability in the middle order to dominate attacks especially spin bowling.

In 2020, Ali had a poor IPL, only playing three matches, scoring 12 runs, and taking one wicket. He is a much better player than this and will want to bring back his IPL 2019 form, where he averaged 27 with the bat and 28 with the ball. Moeen is a multi-talented cricketer and will be well worth watching this year.

Australians 

Jason Behrendorff- A late replacement announced on the opening day of the IPL. Behrendorff will replace Josh Hazlewood who has pulled out of the competition. Behrendorff offers Chennai skills that few offer. Tall left arm swing bowlers are like gold dust and Chennai need gold. Behrendorff will bowl key overs in the powerplay, the only question is whether Behrendroff’s death bowling is up to IPL quality.

Josh Hazlewood- Australia’s test superstar was due to suit up in yellow in 2021. Hazlewood decided to pull out of IPL 2021 due to COVID concerns. After spending effectively June 2020 to March 2021 in bio-bubbles it was too much for Hazlewood to go into quarantine again. Hazlewood is a big loss for Chennai but the Australian has a clear eye on the Ashes which should excite the Aussie fans.

Predicted XI

R Gaikwad, F Du Plessis, A Rayudu, S Raina, M Ali, S Curran, MS Dhoni, R Jadeja, D Bravo, D Chahar, S Thakur,

Full Squad

Faf du Plessis (South Africa), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, N. Jagadeesan (wk), Robin Uthappa, MS Dhoni (c/wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Sam Curran (England), Dwayne Bravo (West Indies), Karn Sharma, R. Sai Kishore, Mitchell Santner (New Zealand), Imran Tahir (South Africa), Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Lungi Ngidi (South Africa), KM Asif, Moeen Ali (England), K Gowtham, Cheteshwar Pujara, M Harisankar Reddy, K. Bhagath Varma, C Hari Nishanth, Jason Behrendorff (Australia)

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