After a disastrous season last year, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) are returning to UAE much better placed ahead of the UAE leg of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021.
MS Dhoni’s men suffered their first-ever league stage exit in IPL 2020 but are standing only second in the points table at the halfway mark of the tournament this year.
CSK have won five and lost just two of their seven matches in IPL 2021 so far. That, despite playing none of their matches at home in Chennai and still retaining what many feel is a brittle, ageing squad, is a commendable effort.
As they return to UAE, CSK will hope that they can once again cope with the extended break that the IPL 2021 has had and the three-time winners can reclaim the coveted IPL crown.
CSK will resume their campaign by locking horns against defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) in Dubai on Sunday (September 19).
CSK squad changes for the second leg of IPL 2021
Current CSK Squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, KM Asif, Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, N Jagadeesan, Karn Sharma, Lungi Ngidi, Mitchell Santner, Ravindra Jadeja, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shardul Thakur, Sam Curran, R Sai Kishore, Moeen Ali, K Gowtham, Cheteshwar Pujara, Harishankar Reddy, Bhagath Varma, C Hari Nishanth.
Probable CSK Playing XI: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Moeen Ali, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (c), Ravindra Jadeja, Sam Curran, Dwayne Bravo, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar
CSK Playing XI Composition:-
Batsmen: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu
Majorly responsible for CSK’s resurgence this year is their batting unit, starting from openers Gaikwad and Du Plessis. Du Plessis, in fact, showed stellar form during the Indian leg and scored 320 runs at an average of 64 and strike-rate of 145.45. After a slow start, Gaikwad (196 runs) bounced back with a couple of half-centuries.
In his comeback season, Raina has taken time to get going, with a strike-rate of only 126.80 for his 123 runs. But the form shown by Rayudu has covered up well for Raina’s initial hiccups. Rayudu made 136 runs at a strike-rate of 200 during the Indian leg of the competition.
Wk-bat: MS Dhoni
CSK have shown they aren’t as dependent on MS Dhoni’s batting contributions as they were before. But the great wicketkeeper-batsman is still an invaluable presence in the side with his undoubted tactical nous and the ability to manage the bowling resources.
All-rounders: Ravindra Jadeja (Spin), Sam Curran (Pace), Dwayne Bravo (Pace)
Jadeja has been fantastic for CSK since the last year’s edition of the IPL, showing a much-improved range of power-hitting. He had a strike-rate of 161.72 for 131 runs in the seven matches of the Indian leg and backed it up 6 wickets and an economy rate of 6.70
Curran was brilliant, too, taking 9 wickets at an economy rate of 8.68 and adding useful runs to the side at a strike-rate of 208. And while Bravo featured in only four games and hardly got the chance to bat, he picked up three wickets while going for a respectable 7.72 runs per over.
Bowlers: Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar
Over the last few years, CSK think-tank and Dhoni have given Indian seamers Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar all the confidence and assurity they require to succeed. Two pacers have been trusted to bowl in the powerplay and at the death, and they have relished the responsibility.