CSK Playing 11: Chennai Super Kings missed out on the playoffs last season by only two points, but if you can remember, their destiny was sealed a long time ago. That two-point margin flattered to deceive at best. CSK were out of the playoff contention before the start of the final phase of the tournament.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, it seemed, laid out his plans for IPL 2021 last season. The former Indian captain admitted, when his team was out of playoff contention, that the remaining games are “preparations for next year.”
Rituraj Gaikwad was given an extended run in the team, while Shane Watson, now retired, was dropped, with Sam Curran or Faf du Plessis used as Gaikwad’s opening partners.
CSK tried different formulas during that run-in. Kedhar Jadhav was going in and out of the team, Sam Curran batted at different positions, while Imran Tahir was also used sporadically.
But we can get a slight hint from CSK’s playing 11 in the last three games of last season.
1. CSK Strongest Playing 11: Openers: Rituraj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis
With Shane Watson retiring, South African Faf Du Plessis will take one of the opening spots in CSK Playing 11 with Rituraj Gaikwad likely to be his partner.
You can’t question du Plessis’ talent or importance to the team, with the South African proving his mettle at the international level for long, but Rituraj Gaikwad remains raw. However, he did enough at the back end of last season to guarantee a spot in MSD’s team at the start of the campaign.
2. CSK Strongest Playing 11: All-Important Third Spot: Suresh Raina
It will be an understatement to say that Suresh Raina was missed by CSK during an underwhelming IPL 2020. Raina is one of the best ever to grace IPL. He is the leading scorer for the Yellow Army in this competition. More than the runs, his experience and presence on the pitch alone can put off the opponents.
3. CSK Strongest Playing 11 Middle-Order: Depth In The Batting Order
Ambati Rayudu may have retired from international cricket, but he has a point or two to prove this season. No doubt, the selectors have overlooked him quite undeservingly at times, but he is a lynchpin of the CSK team.
MS Dhoni will definitely be in the middle-order. Don’t fix a spot for the captain fantastic, for he will be promoting himself in the batting order as per the situation. Moeen Ali, together with Dwayne Bravo and Sam Curran will also form the backbone of CSK’s middle-order.
Then there’s the mercurial Ravindra Jadeja. He doesn’t need an introduction at all. The 32-year-old should be fit for CSK’s opening game against Delhi Capitals on April 10.
CSK Strongest Playing 11: Middle-Order: Ambati Rayudu, Moeen Ali, MS Dhoni, Sam Curran, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo
4. CSK Bowlers: Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar Wraps Up CSK Playing 11
Shardul Thakur is a mainstay in the Indian team now. He walks straight into the CSK playing 11, as does Deepak Chahar.
Faf du Plessis
With Raina returning to CSK set up for IPL 2021, and a fit-again Jadeja raring to go and not to mention the balance Moeen Ali’s presence will bring to the team, there’s no doubt that CSK is once again being looked like one of the few teams who can stop the mighty and defending champions Mumbai Indians from winning yet another title. There’s substance to that notion.
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