Up until they were removed from the IPL, Chennai Super Kings were the most successful team in the tournament’s history. A two-time IPL and Champions League winner, in addition to multiple final appearances, CSK were the team to beat.
Under the able stewardship of MS Dhoni, CSK scaled new heights and set the standard for all other IPL franchises. CSK’s strength lay in it’s high quality squad, as there were world class players in almost every position in the squad.
A solid bench strength was also a huge factor, as Dhoni could choose to bring in several top-class stars into the side without facing any drop in quality. But that might not be case anymore, as the current CSK squad looks a little light in some areas, especially in the seam bowling department.
This is the CSK squad after the 2018 auction,
MS Dhoni (retained 15 crore), Suresh Raina (retained, 11 c), Ravindra Jadeja (retained 7 c), Faf du Plessis (1.5 c), Harbhajan Singh (2 c), Dwayne Bravo (6.4 c), Shane Watson (4 c), Kedar Jadhav (7.8 c), Ambati Rayudu (2.2 c), Imran Tahir (1 c), Karn Sharma (5 c), Shardul Thakur (2.6 Cr), Jagadeesan Narayan (20L), Mitchell Santner (50L), Deepak Chahar (80L), KM Asif (40L), Lungi Ngidi (50 L), Kanishk Seth (20L), Dhruv Shorey (20L), Murali Vijay (2 c), Sam Billings (1 c), Mark Wood (1.5 c), Kshitiz Sharma (20L), Monu Kumar (20L), Chaitanya Bishnoi (20L)
The first thing that strikes you is the number of stars who are either on the wane or well past their prime. The likes of Dhoni, Raina, Du Plessis, Harbhajan, Bravo, Watson and McCullum have all been terrific players in the past, but there are question marks on whether they will be able to reproduce their earlier form this time around.
CSK stacked themselves with spinners, as they looked to capitalize on the slow turning Chepauk pitch. The likes of Harbhajan, Jadeja, Tahir, Jadhav, Sharma, Santner and even the part-time spin of Raina and Vijay would prove to be a handful at home.
But the it is their seam bowling line-up that looks thin on paper, as Mark Wood is the only one who could find a place in any other franchise. With Wood almost guaranteed to start, CSK will need to find another Indian seam bowler who could give sufficient support to the Kiwi star.
One from Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar will partner Wood in leading CSK’s seam-attack. However, both Thakur and Chahar don’t have enough international experience and hence could be taken toll of.
CSK fans will not be overly happy with their squad ahead of the IPL season, as there are other franchises with a much better set of players. But then again, no other franchise has the genius of MS Dhoni with them either!