Chennai Super Kings experienced a disturbing Indian Premier League season last year, coming second from the bottom, much to its faithful followers’ dismay. It was their lowest ever results. For the first season in the league’s history, the three-time winners struggled to qualify for the postseason.
Despite a poor performance in 2020, CSK kept the majority of its players. They expended huge bucks in the mini-auction on all-rounders Krishnappa Gowtham (Rs 9.25 crore) and Moeen Ali (Rs 7 crore). They have signed all-rounder K Bhagath Varma, left-hand batsman C Hari Nishaanth, and medium-pacer Harisankar Reddy for 20 lakh each and India Test specialists Cheteshwar Pujara and Robin Uthappa.
Here is a breakdown of CSK’s SWOT analysis:
Strength: CSK’s most significant advantage is the experience at their command. In MSD, Imran, Faf Du Plessis, Raina and Bravo, have proven match-winners who are adept at handling any situation.
Another aspect in The Yellow Army’s favour is its collection of all-rounders with the potential to turn the game on its head. CSK has many middle-order choices, ranging from Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Sam Curran, Mitchell Santner to the newly acquired Moeen Ali and Krishnappa Gowtham.
Shardul Thakur is still on a roll. In the recently concluded T20 series against England, he demonstrated his talent as a wicket-taking bowler and his ability to bat.
CSK has always been a spin-heavy team, and they will depend on their tweakers to get the job done this year. They also made significant investments in off-spinners Moeen Ali and Krishnappa Gowtham. They also have South African veteran Imran Tahir and Karn Sharma in the leg-spin department. India’s star all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and Blackcap Mitchell Santner add to the variety with left-arm spin.
Weakness: The age of CSK’s players appears to be a source of concern. The term ‘Dad’s Army,’ as charming as it can seem, has a negative connotation. It was the primary cause of their defeat last year.
Another big problem for CSK is a lack of match practice, with players like Dhoni, Raina, Rayudu, and Tahir no longer playing international or domestic cricket. Few players have had the possibility to play professional cricket. Among the Indian contingent, only Shardul Thakur has recently played an international match.
Ravindra Jadeja had not played since January when he suffered a brutal hit to his left thumb during Australia’s tour. Moeen Ali and Sam Curran last played in a white-ball series against India, Faf du Plessis played three Pakistan Premier League matches before the tournament was cancelled, and Mitchell Santner was a member of New Zealand’s squad in the series against Bangladesh.
Pace spearhead Josh Hazlewood’s last-minute decision to skip the tournament to rest before a hectic international season is a significant setback for the squad.
Opportunities: This season is ideal for the team’s young players, including Ruturaj Gaikwad and N Jagadeesan, to demonstrate their potential and impress Indian selectors and other teams ahead of the mega auctions.
Threat: CSK made a blunder with their team selection last season. The problem for CSK this year will be the choice of the starting XI.
Despite having depth in the spin department, the team struggled last season, sticking with ineffective Piyush Chawla and Karn Sharma while Imran Tahir warmed the benches. Choosing the best variations would be crucial.
CSK does not have the luxury of playing at Chepauk because matches are held at neutral venues. If the three-time champions want to be legitimate title challengers, the pacers will need to up their game.
Squad: MS Dhoni (C & WK), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shardul Thakur, Sam Curran, R Sai Kishore, Robin Uthappa, Karn Sharma, Lungi Ngidi, Mitchell Santner, Ravindra Jadeja Moeen Ali, Krishnappa Gowtham, Cheteshwar Pujara, M Harisankar Reddy, K Bhagath Varma, C Hari Nishaanth. Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, KM Asif, Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, N Jagadeesan.