Chennai Super Kings had a harrowing Indian Premier League last year, finishing second from the bottom much to the disappointment of its ardent supporters. It was their worst performance ever. The three-time champions failed to qualify for the playoffs for first time in the history of the league.
Despite a substandard outing in 2020, CSK retained most of its players. In the mini auction, they spent the big bucks on all-rounders Krishnappa Gowtham (Rs 9.25 crore) and Moeen Ali (Rs 7 crore). They also picked up the rookie trio of all-rounder K Bhagath Varma, left-hand batsman C Hari Nishaanth and medium pacer Harisankar Reddy for 20 lakh each besides roping in the services of India Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara and Robin Uthappa.
Here’s a look at CSK’s SWOT analysis:
Strength: CSK’s biggest advantage is the experience at their command. In Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Imran Tahir, Faf Du Plessis, Suresh Raina and Dwayne Bravo they have proven match-winners, who are adept at handling any situation.
Another factor that goes in The Yellow Army’s favour is its assortment of all-rounders who have the capability to turn the match on its head. They have plenty of options in the middle order, from Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Sam Curan, Mitchell Santner to the newly-joined Moeen Ali and Krishnappa Gowtham, CSK is spoilt for choice.
Shardul Thakur is also in red-hot form. He has proved himself to be a wicket-taking bowler in the recently concluded T20 series against England as well as having the ability to bat.
CSK has always been a spin heavy side and this year too they will rely on its tweakers to get the job done. They have invested heavily on off-spinners Moeen Ali and Krishnappa Gowtham. In the leg spin department, they already have South African veteran Imran Tahir and Karn Sharma. Adding to the variation with left-arm spin is India’s star all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and Blackcap Mitchell Santner.
Weakness: CSK’s biggest concern continues to remain the age of its players. The label ‘Dad’s Army’ however indulgent it might sound, has a negative connotation. It was the biggest reason for their failure last year.
Lack of match practice is another major issue for CSK with players like Dhoni, Raina, Rayudu and Tahir not playing international or domestic cricket anymore. Not many players have had opportunities to play competitive cricket. Only Shardul Thakur has recently played an international match recently amongst the Indian contingent.
Ravindra Jadeja hasn’t been in action since he suffered a vicious blow on his left thumb during the tour of Australia in January. As for its overseas players, Moeen Ali and Sam Curran last featured in the white-ball series against India, Faf du Plessis played three Pakistan Premier League matches before the tournament was called off while Mitchell Santner was part of New Zealand squad in the series against Bangladesh.
Pace spearhead Josh Hazlewood’s last minute decision to give the tournament a miss to refresh ahead of a hectic international season is a big blow for the team.
Also Read – Punjab Kings – SWOT Analysis, 2021
Opportunities: This season is the perfect opportunity for the youngsters in the team, including Ruturaj Gaikwad and N Jagadeesan to showcase their talent and impress Indian selectors and other teams ahead of the mega auctions.
Threat: Last season, CSK got the team selection all wrong. This year again the dilemma before CSK would be the selection of the playing XI.
Despite a depth in the spin department the team struggled last season, persisting with Piyush Chawla and Karn Sharma, who were ineffective, while Imran Tahir warmed the benches. Selecting the right combinations will be vital.
With matches being held at neutral venues, CSK don’t have the comfort of playing at Chepauk. The pacers will need to step up their game if the three-time champions want to be serious title contenders.
Squad: MS Dhoni (C & WK), 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, Robin Uthappa, Moeen Ali, Krishnappa Gowtham, Cheteshwar Pujara, M Harisankar Reddy, K Bhagath Varma, C Hari Nishaanth.