Chennai Super Kings (CSK), one of the most successful IPL teams, suffered a huge blow on Saturday morning when Suresh Raina flew back to India due to personal reasons. This adds to the woes for the three-time champions with two players already having tested positive for Covid-19. With all these happenings going around with CSK, their quarantine period has been extended, as a result they will get relatively lesser practice time than other teams.
Raina’s absence comes as a big setback amidst all these. The Super Kings’ batting will be hugely dented by the absence of their batting mainstay, more so because of the consistency he provided to his side. However, there are enough players in the squad as well as guys who went unsold who can replace the southpaw at number 3 for CSK. If they announce a replacement, they have to pick an Indian player who went unsold in the auctions. Here we look at 5 such players who can bat at 3 for CSK:
The 22-year old batsman from Pune is a technically as well as temperamentally strong top order player, but is yet to earn his maiden cap in IPL. Having performed well in the domestic circuit over the past 2 years or so, Ruturaj has been in great form coming into the tournament, with successful stints for India A under his belt.
Despite not playing in the IPL before, Gaikwad is not someone who lacks experience, especially having spent quality time with the experienced CSK squad for two seasons. Ruturaj might not have the reliability factor that Raina provides, but having the ability to play with good technique and also score at a brisk pace, Gaikwad might just prove to be the right kind of guy to bat at 3.
Faf Du Plessis
Having played most of his IPL career as an opener for CSK, Faf might be the ideal choice to replace Raina for the number 3 slot. Faf bats at 3 more often than not for South Africa and it will not be something new for him. So the point of adapting to the position is not something to worry about. A good player of spin, Faf has the ability to excel in powerplays as well as in the middle overs. If the Super Kings decide to open with Rayudu or bring in Vijay or Ruturaj as opener, They can use Faf at 3.
In UAE, where pitches are expected to remain slow, Faf is one of the most reliable options at 3 for CSK. He might not be the flamboyant six hitter that Raina is, but definitely someone who can provide stability and play the anchor role around whom the whole team can bat.
Having underperformed in the middle order in 2019 after having one of his best seasons in 2018 when he opened, Rayudu is almost tailor-made for the number 3 slot in limited overs cricket. Raina’s absence might just prove to be blessing in disguise for Rayudu, as he might be getting his favorite slot to bat in. Rayudu ahs excelled at the number 3 slot for Mumbai Indians and he will be really looking forward to his opportunity of batting higher that where he batted last season.
Rayudu is a good player of spin and also has the ability to shift gears. He might not be the same player he was 4-5 years ago, but is still very capable of taking the attack to the opposition. Also in case of an early wicket, Rayudu is someone who can steady the ship as well as counter-attack if needed.
The experienced Manoj Tiwary, who went unsold in the auctions, has to be one of the most preferred choices if CSK decide to call in a replacement. Tiwary has the game that is needed to be a good fit for the number 3 slot and with the huge amount of experience he has, he might be on the radars of the CSK management.
Having played under Dhoni before, the Bengal batsman will not find it difficult to adapt to the team dynamics. Tiwary has played most of his IPL innings at 4 or below, but his strong game against spin plus a composed head over his shoulders is something which makes him a good number 3 as well.
Having played for Delhi Capitals in 2019, Hanuma Vihari went unsold in the auctions leading up to the 2020 edition. Vihari is not a typical T20 batsman who hits boundaries at will, but someone who can steady the ship and provide stability to the batting order.
While he did not impress batting at 5 or below for Delhi, Vihari did reasonably well for SRH in his early days when he batted up the order. It goes without saying that Vihari the T20 batsman is at his best when he bats up the order.
Vihari might not be an ideal number 3 in IPL, but he is someone who can suit CSK’s requirement of a steady number 3, around whom the whole batting lineup can play. The power game is something he needs to work on though, because he is yet to prove that aspect of his game at this level.