December 07 2018
After two years in the wilderness, Chennai Super Kings came back to the Indian Premier League last season and promptly lifted the trophy for a record-equaling third time. As they prepare for season 12, the Chennai-based outfit has retained most of their core team and have only released three members.
England fast bowler Mark Wood – who only played one match last season where he gave away 49 runs in 4 overs without claiming any wickets – and uncapped Indian players Kanishk Seth and Kshitiz Sharma are the three who have been axed from their 26 member squad from last season.
Indian all-rounder Kedar Jadhav and New Zealand spinner Mitchell Santner missed last season due to injuries but both of them have been retained. Jadhav’s replacement – England all-rounder David Willey – has also kept his place in the Chennai squad.
It is a very sensible decision on Chennai’s part to retain their core. Led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, CSK pack in a wealth of experience in the likes of Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Shane Watson, Sam Billings, Dwayne Bravo, Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh, among others. One of the criticism the team received at the start of the season was that they had one of the oldest outfits in the league, but those critics were silenced when Chennai lifted the trophy at the end of the season. The veteran Dhoni rolled back the years to win matches with his bat while Ambati Rayudu also had his best season in the IPL.
In fact, it is the experience of the squad that has helped them in pressure situations and both skipper Dhoni and coach Stephen Fleming are aware of that. In the upcoming season, with the World Cup coming up right after the IPL, South Africa might want du Plessis, Tahir and Lungi Ngidi back mid-season and England might call Willey and Billings back but CSK are unperturbed. They believe they have enough talent and experience in the squad to defend the title.
But one area where CSK could use some more firepower is the bowling. While Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar are both promising Indian pacers, they could get the signature of rookie Rajneesh Gurbani. Having led Vidarbha to the Ranji Trophy followed by the Irani Trophy, he is spitting fire in the domestic circuit with his unwavering accuracy. He was left unsold at last season’s auction and this season could have a similar base price of Rs 20 lakhs.
Another name that could strengthen CSK is the relatively unknown Varun Chakravathi. The spinner has made a name for himself by starring for Madurai Panthers in the TNPL. His leg-cutters and off-cutters help finish overs as well as claim wickets. He is still quite inexperienced and has a long way to go, but under Dhoni’s guidance he could turn into a mystery spinner in the mould of Sunil Narine.
There have been calls to sign the veteran Yuvraj Singh. Playing for India, he achieved a lot of success under Dhoni but that was a long time ago and he is not the same force he once was. Considering the fact that CSK already have a bunch of all-rounders, it is unlikely that they will go for Yuvi who managed just 65 runs for Kings XI Punjab last season.
All in all, having retained their core squad, the champions look up and ready to conquer the league again. One or two inspirational signings in the upcoming auction should do the trick for them!