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Squad analysis IPL 2018: A look at spin heavy Chennai Super Kings

A sneak peek into what is brewing in the CSK camp.

MS Dhoni of CSK
MS Dhoni of CSK. (Photo by Duif du Toit / Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Former India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be on a familiar turf when leading Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL 2018 season). The 2010 and 2011 champions are making a comeback to the money-spinning blockbuster league after being suspended for a period of two years.

The franchise retained MS Dhoni alongside star players Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja to create the base of the side that saw them play for the former champions for eight seasons in a row. At the Bengaluru auction, they picked up some more of their former past players in Faf du Plessis, Dwayne Bravo, and Murali Vijay.

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To add to that, several notable players like Shane Watson, Harbhajan Singh, and Ambati Rayudu were also bought this season that makes them look like a side rich in experience and gloss. The team under coach Stephen Fleming will be hoping to get sustainable rewards this term in IPL 11 and move on from the two-year suspension that brought a lot of gloom.

Here is the analysis of the Chennai team that will play under the stewardship of MS Dhoni

Batsmen: Murali Vijay and veteran all-rounder Shane Watson will likely open the innings for the side. Vijay missed the previous edition and will hope to make his presence felt atop in the side. He had a decent outing in 2016 for Kings XI Punjab scoring 453 runs in 14 matches.

The middle order looks solid with Faf du Plessis, Dhoni and Raina aiming to consolidate and be the side’s backbone. Dhoni and Raina especially have given the fans many special memories over the years while possessing the power to accelerate according to the demand of the situation. Raina has made a return to the Indian side for the three-match series against South Africa and has been in rich form in the recently concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

With Kedar Jadhav and Ambati Rayudu in the side as well, they have options aplenty to support the trio. Delhi’s 25-year-old batsman Dhruv Shorey is an interesting prospect and he shined in the domestic T20s helping his side win the title recently.

A look at Raina and Dhoni’s IPL record for the Chennai Super Kings.

Raina: Matches 161, Runs 4540, Best 100, Average 34.14, S/R 139.05

Dhoni: Matches 159, Runs 3561, Best 70, Average 37.88, S/R 136.75

All-rounders:

Besides opening the innings, former Australian all-rounder Watson will be the key player when rolling his arms to the side. Over the years he has played for several teams in the IPL and has a positive record. The 36-year-old has been a leader for the Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash League (BBL) and has been aiding the youngsters. One will expect him to have a similar role at CSK.

Shane Watson: Matches 102, Runs 2622, Best 104, Average 31.21, S/R 138.66, Wickets 86, Best 4/29

Besides Watson, Dwayne Bravo will also add to the impetus on the side. The West Indian veteran was a revelation for CSK in his prime and fans will be hoping to see him come out all guns blazing when he dons the yellow jersey. Bravo has been plying his trade recently in the BBL for Melbourne Renegades.

Also, Ravindra Jadeja boasts of being another high-profile all-rounder in the side and recently he hasn’t played much-limited overs cricket for India with focus lying on youth.

Bowlers: Chennai has gone heavy on spin with Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh, and Mitchell Santner. Tahir has enjoyed success as a bowler in the IPL off late and will be an interesting prospect given his variations. Meanwhile, Harbhajan’s experience will be handy for the side especially with the player enjoying a lot of success with Mumbai Indians over the years.

Harbhajan Singh: Matches 136, Wickets 127, Best 5/18, Economy 6.96

Mitchell Santner is the pick of the auctions for CSK with the Kiwi international excelling for his team in his last tour of India. Also, Karn Sharma fills up as the fourth notable spinner in the side.

In the pace department, India’s Shardul Thakur and South Africa’s rising star Lungi Ngidi hold the key for the side. England’s Mark Wood recently featured against Australia in the ODI series and is another bargain player they have in their kitty besides Rajasthan’s Deepak Chahar. The 25-year-old played a key role for his state in the recently concluded T20 tourney.

Threats and challenges: The team looks pretty aged with several big players above the age of 30. Dhoni’s backup Sam Billings hasn’t quite impressed in the format and he could hardly get a look in. The team could have gone for another noted pacer and an opening batsman especially if Vijay and Watson fail atop.

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