Chennai Super Kings (CSK) will be out on the hunt for their fourth title when IPL 2020 kicks off in September.
They will try to equal Mumbai Indians’ (MI) record for the most IPL title wins. CSK have played 10 seasons so far and have made it to the playoffs every single time.
In fact, barring 2009 and 2014, they have reached the final in every season they have played. The MS Dhoni-led side made a resurgent comeback in 2018 after they were banned for two years (2016 and 2017).
CSK’s USP has been their ability to stick to a core side and back them to the hilt. Hence, it is no surprise that the three-time IPL champions picked up just four players in the auction which was held in December last year.
The Chennai-based franchise has constantly been under the scanner, given the age of their players in the last couple of years. However, they have found ways to be successful.
Despite reaching the final last year, batting was an area of concern. MS Dhoni and co will hope that this year things pan out differently.
There are a few players who can take charge and lead the way with the bat. Thus, here we look at three such players who can end up with the Orange Cap in IPL 2020.
Mind you, this season is going to be played in the UAE. And only twice (Matthew Hayden – 2009 and Michael Hussey – 2013) has a CSK player gone on to win the Orange Cap in an IPL season.
Shane Watson has to be in this list. If CSK players are the ones in question and most runs is being discussed, he will be at the top of the list.
The switch to CSK has been a remarkable one for him. After a successful time with Rajasthan Royals (RR), he saw a torrid phase with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) where he averaged a meager 13.16 after 24 games.
However, after those two years, Watson came back with a bang. He bowled very rarely and his batting garnered all the attention.
Moreover, he moved back to the top of the order (he batted in the middle – more of a finisher’s role for RCB) and that made a world of a difference for the veteran Australian all-rounder.
He smashed 555 runs averaging nearly 40 and striking at 154.60. Yes, he had an up and down last season yet he managed to score 398 runs.
Watson has become the head of the CSK batting line-up in the last couple of seasons. He is a big-match player and has contributed big time in the knockout games.
He averages 32.15 while amassing 1254 runs in the UAE in T20 cricket. If Watson can come anywhere close to winning the Orange Cap, that will mean CSK doing very well in the competition. That’s the sort of impact that Watson creates.
Faf du Plessis
You could argue that Faf du Plessis may not even find a permanent spot in the playing XI right from the start. It was the case even last season yet he played 12 games.
And going by history, CSK tend to back their experienced stars. Therefore, the former South African skipper is likely to continue as Watson’s opening partner.
Ever since du Plessis has joined the IPL, he has been an integral part of CSK. He has played varied roles but it is at the top where he’s been most successful. If he bats in the top three, he averages 34.65 and has made nearly 75% of his runs in the IPL.
Moreover, year-wise, he has been consistent over the last couple of years. Du Plessis is the rock at the top who brings some calmness as well.
After MS Dhoni, the South African star was the most consistent CSK player last season, scoring 396 runs at an average of 36.00 which was one of his best. Much will depend on him this season as well.
Surprised? It will be the case with most people. A lot of them have written MS Dhoni off. The fact that he has been away from the game for more than a year and there is a lot of speculation around his retirement.
However, one thing has always been clear that he was always going to play in IPL 2020. And according to some of his teammates who were there at the pre-season CSK camp in early March, Dhoni was hitting the ball as well as ever.
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The Ranchi-born cricketer has been CSK’s top batsman. Before 2018, Dhoni never got 400+ runs in a season in back to back years.
In fact, he got 400+ runs in a season only twice. However, in 2018 and 2019, he breached that mark. In 2018, he scored 455 runs averaging 75.83 and in 2019, he made 416 runs at an average of 83.20.
One difference has been that he is consistently batting at No. 4 and 5. Out of the 27 innings he’s played in the IPL over the last two years, 21 have come at those two positions.
Moreover, in the last two years, no player averages more than Dhoni batting at No. 4 and 5. Only Rishabh Pant and Dinesh have more runs than Dhoni at No. 4 and 5 in this period.
Not only over the last couple of years, Dhoni loves batting at the aforementioned positions. 75% of his IPL career runs have come at No. 4 and 5. In fact, Dhoni’s best averages and strike-rates are also at those positions.
Thus, Dhoni seems to be in love with the IPL and his batting goes a notch higher whenever he dons the CSK shirt. He may well be the dark horse pick in this list.