fbpx

IPL 2022: Chennai Super Kings SWOT Analysis

/
8 mins read

For a team who have backed continuity and experience over the years, the CSK didn’t dither from their tried-and-tested ideology as they managed to bring back 8 out of the 11 players who won the 2021 final. They look like the best bet to retain the title once again. 

Before the IPL 2022 mega auction, there were several questions aimed at the Chennai Super Kings management over how they would approach it. For a team that had over the years prioritised sticking to a core group of players and only tweaked things when absolutely necessary, with a few of their stalwarts entering the twilight stages of their respective career, the emphasis could’ve easily shifted towards building a new core. 

And just like that, the CSK management group entered the auction room standing firm on their beliefs. While the other teams splashed the cash on getting certain marquee signings, the Super Kings were busy getting their core together. They kept their cards close to their chest and only flexed their financial muscles when players who were a part of the previous setup entered the fray. They lost out on getting Faf du Plessis but secured the signings of Ambati Rayudu, Dwayne Bravo and Robin Uthappa for a combined sum of just under ₹13 crore. 

Moreover, since Day 1 of the auction is often regarded as the “Players’ Day” and Day 2 the “Team’s Day”, the Super Kings made it a point to make full use of it. Thus, despite forking out a massive ₹14-crore paycheck for Deepak Chahar on Day 1, the CSK were in decent shape to channel their efforts towards preparing a squad capable of challenging for the title on Day 2. 

Chennai bought in a few top-notch players at very decent prices. Since they missed out on Faf and needed someone who could replicate some of his batting abilities, they added Devon Conway for just ₹1 crore, which for me is the buy of the auction. The Kiwi international adds real value at the top of the order and can be the perfect foil for Ruturaj Gaikwad. Make no mistake, the CSK might have finally landed their Micheal Hussey replacement after so many years. 

On a similar note, they’ve added Dwaine Pretorius. The South African all-rounder is a like-for-like replacement for the ageing Dwayne Bravo and looked promising in his limited appearances last season. On the other hand, as seen with the likes of Deepak Chahar, Ravindra Jadeja and Shardul Thakur, someone like Rajvardhan Hangargekar could be morphed into a world-class all-rounder under MS Dhoni’s guidance. 

Thus, after another solid auction, where do the Chennai Super Kings stand ahead of IPL 2022. Can they claim their fifth title, or will it be another near-miss like so many before? Without further ado, let’s dive into it and take a look at the SWOT analysis of the CSK for IPL 2022. 

Chennai Super Kings Squad

Total squad: 25

Batters and
Wicket-keepers
All-roundersBowlers
C Hari Nishanth
Ruturaj Gaikwad
Ambati Rayudu (wk)
Devon Conway (wk)
MS Dhoni (c & wk)
N Jagadeesan (wk)
Robin Uthappa
Subhranshu Senapati
Bhagath Verma
Dwaine Pretorius
Dwayne Bravo
Mitchell Santner
Moeen Ali
Ravindra Jadeja
Shivam Dube
Rajvardhan Hangargekar
Adam Milne
Chris Jordan
Deepak Chahar
KM Asif
Mukesh Chaudhary
Simarjeet Singh
Tushar Deshpande
Maheesh Theekshana
Prashant Solanki

Probable XI: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Devon Conway, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Dwayne Pretorius, Deepak Chahar, Adam Milne, Prashant Solanki.

STRENGTH

There’s a reason why the Super Kings have been outright dominant and consistent over the years, while the likes of the Punjab Kings and the Royal Challengers Bangalore start afresh almost every other season. The CSK do not let go of their core very often, which is why they have qualified for the Playoffs in 11 out of the 12 editions they have participated in, including 9 finals, of which they have won 4.

The CSK have been able to bring back eight out of the eleven players that played the IPL final last season against the Kolkata Knight Riders. While they retained the quartet of Ruturaj Gaikwad, Moeen Ali and MS Dhoni, they splashed the cash on getting back certain starters that they think will help their cause for seasons to come. Ambati Rayudu, Robin Uthappa, Dwayne Bravo and Deepak Chahar: all four of these played key roles in different stages of the tournament last season, so it was a no-brainer for the CSK management to bring them back. That gives them eight genuine match-winners in the playing XI, and while people will question the inclusion of players like Dwayne Bravo and MS Dhoni, both of them exhibited last season that, whenever their team were in a spot of bother, despite their age, their experience and skill came through. Moreover, the CSK have added good replacements for the spots that needed strengthening. Devon Conway at the top of the order is a brilliant long-term addition, while Shivam Dube has been roped in as a long-term replacement for Shardul Thakur. The team will also look to groom Tushar Deshpande as the third seamer, in rotation with someone like Rajvardhan Hangargekar. 

Thus, the CSK have a very strong squad with good backups for several key players that are prone to injuries. Furthermore, when you look at the pure strength of any team, it is the CSK batting lineup that stands out as arguably the best in the league, and one that also bats very deep, as low as Deepak Chahar at No. 9. 

WEAKNESS

While there isn’t too much to look at in terms of weaknesses, the lack of cover for the likes of Ambati Rayudu and Shivam Dube (presumably) at Nos. 4 and 5 respectively possesses a bit of a concern for the Chennai Super Kings. Dube, who is a new entrant in the CSK squad and most probably the playing XI too, has the reputation of being a spin-basher, but statistically, he fares better against seam bowling. He is also a decent right-arm medium-fast bowler who operates usually during the second half of the innings, giving MS the luxury of rotating his bowlers. However, in seasons gone by, the 28-year-old has failed to live up to the hype around him, hype that made the likes of Rajasthan Royals and the Royal Challengers Bangalore spend big money on him. 

While Dhoni’s powers have been on the wane for some time now, the CSK need someone to share the burden of finishing the innings with Ravindra Jadeja. Although Jadeja—over the last two seasons—has shown time and again that he is currently one of the best finishers of the game, both MS and the CSK know they need to bed in someone for the long-term while he’s still there. Thus, taking a punt on Dube becomes that much more significant, further taking into account that the team will be trusting him completely without any backups in place. 

The Rayudu situation is a different ball-game altogether. At the No. 4 role, Rayudu plays both as an anchor and an aggressor, switching between the roles as the innings progresses. Aged 36 now, the former Indian batter has suffered injuries and missed games over the last two seasons. The CSK have Odisha’s Subhranshu Senapati as a possible replacement if the 36-year-old has to sit out for a game or two. 

OPPORTUNITY

Barring one or two spots, the Super Kings have an assortment of exciting prospects that can turn out to be excellent backups and potential starters in the future. Ruturaj Gaikwad and Devon Conway are almost certain to open the innings for the CSK, while they also have last season’s Playoffs difference-maker Robin Uthappa, who can slot in for either batter if required at any stage. However, two young local talents are waiting in the wings to grab an opportunity just like Ruturaj did back in 2020. 

C Nishaanth is a left-handed batter who bats at the top of the order and ended the 2021 Tamil Nadu Premier League season as the highest run-getter, while N Jagadeesan, who was part of the previous setup as well, can come in for Ruturaj if he has to sit out for a game or two. Besides, Jagadeesan was also among the runs in the 2021 TNPL as he ended the campaign as the third-highest run-getter. 

As mentioned earlier in the Weakness section, Subhranshu Senapati can become a decent replacement for Ambati Rayudu in the future, but he also has the runs behind him and the potential to step in this season too if and when required. Senapati has been a prolific run-scorer for Odisha in the First-class circuit and also has decent T20 stats (Average: 28.95, Strike Rate: 122.26) to make a claim for his inclusion. However, he doesn’t have or, at least, hasn’t shown that he has different gears to go to like Rayudu. 

As far as the spin department is concerned, following Imran Tahir’s departure and players like Karn Sharma, Piyush Chawla and Harbhajan Singh all leaving in recent times, last season at times it felt like the CSK spin department was solely reliant on Ravindra Jadeja and Moeen Ali to deliver for them. Although due to the brilliance of the two it never felt like Chennai needed new personnel, in hindsight, they were extremely short on spin options since MS and the management decided against playing the 43-year-old Tahir. 

With that in mind, the CSK have significantly bolstered their spin department for the new season. While both Mitchell Santner and Bhagath Varma were part of the previous squad, I want to focus more on the two new additions: Prashant Solanki and Maheesh Theekshana, who were part of the 2021 squad as net bowlers but weren’t in the 25-man squad.

Solanki is a young 21-year-old leg-spinner from Mumbai. He has just played one T20 so far, but his numbers in List A cricket are impressive: in just 9 matches, he has taken 21 wickets at a staggering Average of 5.96. Theekshana, on the other hand, is more of a mystery bowler. He is of a similar mould to another Sri Lankan mystery bowler, Ajantha Mendis. Moreover, Theekshana has a lot of tricks up his sleeves, including but not limited to the googly, the carrom ball and off-breaks. The Super Kings may look to bring in either of the two to assist Jadeja and add a new dimension to their bowling attack.

THREAT

Threats…well, age was a big issue with the previous CSK squad. However, there are only a few old warhorses left in the current squad: Dhoni, Uthappa, Rayudu, Bravo and Moeen Ali (maybe). Thus, it is a relatively fresh and young squad. While both Uthappa and Bravo will be heavily rotated throughout the season in my opinion, the mainstays Dhoni, Rayudu and Moeen are likely to pose the bigger concern. 

As far as MS is concerned, during my cricket days, one of my coaches once said: “A great captain and leader is worth the value of two good players.” Whenever I see him on the field, especially more recently as his powers have started to wane, that saying always comes to my mind. There were moments last season when we could see MS push players ahead of him and finish off games as he sat in his chair and pulled all the strings. For a team that can bat as deep as the No. 9 batter, MS doesn’t need to think about how many runs he can add to the team’s tally; what he’s more concerned about is how he can improve his team’s chances of winning games. This is one of the reasons why I think the CSK and Dhoni himself has decided to be put as the second retention. If things don’t work out and he feels like quitting at the end of the 2022 season, Chennai will have ₹12 crore available to them to bring in a marquee replacement. 

As far as both Ambati Rayudu and Moeen Ali are concerned, the former has been a stalwart and big-match player for the Super Kings, while Moeen, after a middling start to his IPL career with the Royal Challengers Bangalore, exploded onto the scene with the CSK last season. While both are very limited cricketers in some aspects of their respective games, the makeup of the current CSK team and their ability to mostly extract the positives out of their players bring the best out of them more often than not. This is one of the most balanced CSK sides in a long time and has enough resources to circumvent certain roadblocks along the way.

Thus, as far as predictions go, I expect another dominant display from Dhoni’s army and believe they’ll be one of the first teams to qualify for the Playoffs. Although nothing is certain in sports, I believe they’ll steamroll most teams en route to another IPL title. 

PREDICTION: 1st

%d bloggers like this: