The India versus Australia series may have concluded but that will not dampen the spirits of any Indian cricket fans as the annual extravaganza of the Indian Premier League is almost upon us and no discussion about the IPL starts without Chennai Super Kings.
CSK is the defending champion of the IPL and has kept hold of almost their entire squad from the triumphant season of 2018. Thus, they will have a familiar setup as last year and given MS Dhoni's calm presence at the helm, it will not be surprising to see another big season from the yellow brigade.
Here's taking a look at the team's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
- The presence of captain cool Dhoni is the biggest strength for Chennai Super Kings. He brings stability and astute leadership with him. Last year also proved that Dhoni becomes rejuvenated whenever he wears the yellow of Chennai and the usually stoic skipper has a very special connection with his IPL franchise.
- The sheer volume of all-rounders gives Dhoni a chance to play around with his combination and he always has a trump card up his sleeve. The team consists of Suresh Raina, Shane Watson, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo and Kedar Jadhav who can chip in with the ball at any time giving the team plenty of options.
- The yellow brigade is not the incredible fielding side it once was. The likes of Jadhav, Imran Tahir and Ambati Rayudu are not the best on the field while Watson and Harbhajan Singh are also not spring chickens anymore.
- CSK has covered most of their bases and even acquired the services of Mohit Sharma to add experience to their pace bowling department. But the death bowling still remains a place of concern. Bravo is not as effective as he once was and Deepak Chahar is a new ball bowler which will add pressure on Mohit at the death.
- CSK has a fantastic chance of winning the IPL once again given the number of match-winners in their ranks. Watson showed last season that he is still a force to be reckoned with and the conditions in Chennai suits the batting styles of Rayudu and Jadhav. Dhoni himself turned on the style in the last IPL.
- This will be a big IPL for Suresh Raina and Jadeja. While the World Cup is beyond the former's reach, he is still in contention for a T20 berth. India has been looking ahead to the 2020 T20 World Cup and Raina could well make a return to the fold with a strong performance. As for Jadeja, a strong showing will put him in a strong position to travel to England for the World Cup.
- This is an ageing squad with many players on the wrong side of 30 – Dhoni, Harbhajan, Watson, Tahir, Raina, Jadhav, Bravo and Rayudu among others. A lot of these players, barring Dhoni and Raina, may not have it in them to play all the matches. Thus, the chances of injuries may be high. Dhoni will have to be very clever with how he manages his players for this may be the last season he has this bunch of players before the squad is revitalised.
MS Dhoni (C) (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Suresh Raina, Kedar Jadhav, Dwayne Bravo, Karn Sharma, Shane Watson, Shardul Thakur, Ambati Rayudu, Murali Vijay, Harbhajan Singh, Faf Du Plessis, Sam Billings (WK), Imran Tahir, Deepak Chahar, Lungisani Ngidi, Asif KM, N Jagadeesan, Monu Singh, Dhruv Shorey, Chaitanya Bishnoi, David Willey, Mitchell Santner, Mohit Sharma, Ruturaj Gaikwad