One of the most successful teams in the Indian Premier League, Chennai Super Kings haven’t run out of trouble since they landed in UAE weeks before the tournament began. With star players like Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh leaving the club midway into pre-season citing personal reasons, MS Dhoni and Stephen Fleming have struggled to make do with the squad at hand.
If that wasn’t enough, Chennai Super Kings have also experienced a lack of form at the beginning of their campaign as they sit sixth in the points table with two points coming from the first three matches. We have listed five changes that the management would need to make before Chennai Super Kings take on Sunrisers Hyderabad on Friday, October 2.
RESHUFFLE OPENING PAIR
While hardly anything has gone Chennai Super Kings’ way so far in IPL 2020, the one aspect that has pricked their fans the most is the repeated failure of their opening pair. A hero in many of their previous editions, Shane Watson has evidently stopped working for CSK now and any more chances for him could spell disaster on the longer run.
Murali Vijay’s lack of intent shown on the pitch has been another frustrating aspect attributing to CSK’s descent. Vijay has previously proved his hard-hitting abilities in the yellow jersey numerous times but the conditions in UAE remain a real challenge for the Indian Test opener.
Both Watson and Vijay failed to give CSK the start they needed against Delhi Capitals and Rajasthan Royals and with tougher opponents awaiting them, MS Dhoni and Stephen Fleming need to fix things fast. Fortunately, they already have a vibrant opening pair in Faf du Plessis and the talented Ruturaj Gaikwad who could take bowlers to the ropes when the field restrictions are on. Ambati Rayudu remains a well-proven opening option as well.
GET IN DWAYNE BRAVO!
With Stephen Fleming already hinting at Dwayne Bravo making a quick recovery, the West Indian all-rounder is widely expected to be available for selection before their next match against Sunrisers Hyderabad. The vastly experienced all-rounder has played a pivotal role in CSK’s success on previous occasions and Bravo’s his hard-batting and death bowling abilities could become the differentiator in CSK’s season from hereon.
Though Bravo’s inclusion would destabilize the overseas players’ quote in the first eleven, with Shane Watson looking at the bench, the Caribbean star would be an ideal replacement down the order. Apart from batting and bowling, Bravo’s contribution in the field is also criminally underrated.
BRING UP MS DHONI
MS Dhoni’s batting position has always been a subject of debate and this time won’t be any different. Once the most devastating finisher in world cricket, MS Dhoni has slowed with age and although the former Indian captain boasts of supreme fitness, his proclivity to take risks has declined over the years.
While it wasn’t an issue when CSK were winning matches and reaching finals, their recent lack of form has raised the question again. With Gaikwad taking the opening position, MS Dhoni will be able to come at his preferred No.5 position; and the ICC World Cup winner is already showing how easily he crosses the rope once he starts connecting the ball.
Dhoni’s initiative to promote younger players ahead of him is noble and that even worked with Curran decimating Krunal Pandya in the IPL opener against Mumbai Indians. However, CSK’s recent results have shown that the team needs more time to get along with it – something they don’t have.
Time up for Kedar Jadhav
Kedar Jadhav had been an important cog in the wheel for both the national team and Chennai Super Kings with his steady batting and finger spins in the middle overs. However, the all-rounder is at his wit’s end now.
While Jadhav wasn’t handed the ball at all in CSK’s first three matches this season, he could score only 48 runs with a strike rate of 129.72. His experience to steer clear his team out of difficult situations might have been an advantage previously, but CSK should look at more permanent options now.
A fresh face like Ravi Sai Kishore, who did well in the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy last year – with 26 wickets in 22 games – will bring a surprise element for opponents. Obviously, Kishore won’t bring the batting nuance of Jadhav but Dwayne Bravo’s inclusion down the order provides the cushion at the deep end that CSK are lacking.
GIVE MITCHELL SANTNER A CHANCE
The New-Zealand spinner has proved himself time and again on spinning tracks in his national jersey, and it is time Dhoni showed trust in him. With Lungi Ngidi and Josh Hazlewood failing to amp up their presence in the Dubai heat, Santner’s variations could do the trick.
In Bravo, Curran and Deepak Chahar, Chennai Super Kings already have three pacers to push opponents back when needed. And Santner could prove to be the ideal partner for veterans Imran Tahir and Piyush Chawla to frustrate opponents in the middle and death overs.
The 28-year-old bowler was given a chance in just four IPL matches last year, where he claimed four wickets at the expense of 94 runs with an economy of 6.71.
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