The Chennai Super Kings unit have faced a series of setbacks ahead of the 13th edition with the Indian Premier League, with big stars Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh pulling out due to personal reasons. The side was also in the news as two of their players, Deepak Chahar and Ruturaj Gaikwad, tested positive for the coronavirus. Though Chahar is likely to play the tournament opener against Mumbai Indians on Saturday, Gaikwad is yet to test negative and is unlikely to take the field.
We predict the probable playing XI of three-time champions CSK.
Shane Watson and Murali Vijay
The toughest decision that CSK will have to take is how they can replace the ever-dependable Suresh Raina in the squad. The Indian usually bats at number three and plays the role of an anchor to perfection. This season, CSK might be forced to open with Murali Vijay, who had warmed the benches for a major part of the year last season, and Shane Watson, who shone and set the stage o n fire in 2019.
Vijay might not be the best opener in the team, and the franchise might be tempted to try out Faf du Plessis or Ambati Rayudu at the top, but either choice will drastically weaken the middle order that is already too dependent on MS Dhoni.
Faf du Plessis, Kedar Jadhav, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni
Du Plessis is the ideal choice to come in at number three, with the South African batting at the position for his national team as well. The South African has not been a regular in the CSK set-up of late, but his ability to strike the ball a long way and anchor the innings makes him the perfect candidate in the absence of Raina.
Kedar Jadhav is guaranteed to make the team in the absence of Raina and Bhajji, with his off-spin likely to be crucial as well on the slow wickets in the UAE. Though Jadhav has never batted as high as number four, he can make the cut due to his experience. With Dhoni and Rayudu to follow in the batting order, Jadhav can play his natural game.
Rayudu or Dhoni can walk in the number five position. Jadhav has the best IPL figures at number five – an average of 34.35 with a strike rate of 132.63 – and was seen finishing games for Mumbai Indians regularly. Dhoni will have the duty of playing the finisher’s role – a role that the former Indian skipper has seemed to enjoy over the years.
Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja
Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja have been the go-to all-rounders for CSK over the years, and they once again play key roles for the team this season. Bravo recently became the first T20 bowler to pick up 500 wickets in the format and he has been crucial in the death overs. With the Indian pacers Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur leaking runs in the death often, Bravo has kept things tight, and his performance with both bat and ball will be vital.
Ravindra Jadeja will be one of the most important players for Chennai Super Kings this year. The tracks will aid his bowling style, and he could be promoted up the order as well in a few games.
Shardul Thakur, Piyush Chawla, Deepak Chahar, Imran Tahir
Piyush Chawla, the third-highest wicket-taker in the IPL, is expected to slot right into the XI, with his googly and variations likely to be lethal on these conditions. Imran Thair is one of the most dangerous bowlers in the format. The South African had a memorable CPL, where he picked up 15 wickets in 11 games and will be leading the charge with the ball.
Deepak Chahar will spearhead the attack with the new ball this year, having recovered from the Covid-19. The Rajasthan pacer can swing the ball both ways in the powerplay overs, and can prove to be a potent bowler in the death overs as well.
Shardul Thakur might be expensive on occasions, but the CSK unit do not have any other experienced Indian seamer who can partner Chahar with the new ball, and so Thakur is expected to start, at least in the first few games.
Chennai Super Kings Predicted Playing XI for IPL 2020:
Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, Murali Vijay, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (c, wk), Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Piyush Chawla, Imran Tahir