Three-time champion Super Kings failed to qualify for the Indian Premier League (IPL) play-offs for the first time in its history in 2020. In the UAE, CSK managed to avoid the wooden spoon, thanks to three successive victories at the end of the league stage.
Hurt by its performances in the previous edition, MS Dhoni-led CSK will look to get back to where it belongs – the upper echelons of IPL. The Chennai-based franchise has oodles of experience in its ranks and that will hold it in good stead in crucial situations.
The comeback of Raina could strengthen its batting unit, which faltered far too often in IPL 2020. A line-up comprising Faf du Plessis, Raina, Dhoni, Ambati Rayudu and Moeen Ali among others cannot be taken lightly. Versatile batsman Robin Uthappa and Cheteshwar Pujara could prove to be smart purchases.
As far as the pace-bowling department is concerned, CSK owns the likes of Lungi Ngidi, Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar. All-rounders Sam Curran and Dwayne Bravo add value to the Super Kings set-up, which shouldn’t have many headaches with the fast bowlers.
However, the team will have to rework its strategy a bit as it won’t be playing any matches on the turning tracks at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. The spin attack has experienced and skilful operators, but the management needs to get its combination right. Jadeja, Mitchell Santner, Moeen, Krishnappa Gowtham, Imran Tahir, Karn Sharma and R Sai Kishore are the options it boasts of.
The lack of competitive action for some of its ageing stars could have an impact in their game. Dhoni, Raina and Rayudu are not longer a part of the international scene, but are key components of the squad. They will have to get going as soon as possible if Super Kings is to go deep in the eight-team tournament.
Also, CSK would be a bit worried about Bravo’s form and Jadeja’s return from injury. But with an inspirational skipper like Dhoni leading the team, Super Kings would be itching to prove its doubters wrong.