On February 18th, 2020, Chennai Super Kings bought Moeen Ali during the Indian Premier League auction. After being embroiled in a bidding war with Kings XI Punjab for the all-rounder, the three-time winners of the competition eventually secured Ali’s services for £700,000. Although the 33-year-old is no stranger to the most lucrative limited-overs tournament in cricket, his move to CSK signals a fresh start to his IPL career. With a clean slate, can the England international prove his worth in the much-loved T20 competition? Let’s take a look at what Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team have got for their money.
Securing His Services Ahead of Kings XI Punjab
Between 2018 and 2020, Ali lined-up for the Royal Challengers Bangalore. However, across his three years with the franchise captained by Virat Kohli, he was only ever once a go-to option. According to his profile on the official IPL website, he played a combined 19 matches during his spell with RCB. Despite playing all but three games in the 2019 league phase, Bangalore fell to an eighth-place finish, winning just five fixtures. From an individual standpoint, 2020 proved to be worse for Ali. Although off-field factors impacted the tournament, the 33-year-old only bowled 30 balls across his three appearances. Moreover, in that time, he took one wicket.
At the end of the 2020 campaign, RCB opted to release a handful of players, including Australia’s Aaron Finch and Ali. Despite the setback, the all-rounder put himself forward for the 2021 IPL auction. He wasn’t the only Englishman to do so, as Dawid Malan, Liam Livingston, and Sam Billings also sought an IPL role. Because of Ali’s undeniable talent, particularly in limited-overs cricket, CSK acted quickly to recruit the Birmingham-born left-hander. It speaks volumes about his skill set that he was the was expensive Englishman during the auction, going for £180,000 more than Tom Curran, who went to the GMR Group-owned franchise, the Delhi Capitals.
Furthermore, it’s a testament to the belief that teams have in Ali that there was a battle for his services. In 2020, Kings XI finished level on points with CSK after a slow start to the tournament. Given that neither franchise enjoyed their best showing in the IPL last year, their decision to turn to the 33-year-old signals that they see him as the player to transform their fortunes. As of February 19th, CSK are 13/2 in the cricket betting at Betway to win the 2021 IPL, but their addition of Ali unquestionably heightens their chances of success.
His T20 Record Shows Promise
Now that CSK have signed Ali, many may be wondering what the all-rounder will bring to the franchise. Well, first and foremost, he joins an outfit that retained its legendary captain, MS Dhoni. During the former Indian captain’s time with CSK, he’s led them to titles in 2010, 2011, and 2018. However, after setting the bar so high, Chennai’s performance in 2020 left fans a little underwhelmed. Historically, the team’s supporters have become accustomed to seeing their side battling for playoff qualification. To date, they have achieved that feat in ten of their 11 active seasons, with 2020 being the only campaign in which they failed to do so.
As such, Ali’s move to CSK is of real significance. In the 13th edition of the IPL, Chennai struggled to make their mark due to a lack of death-over bowlers. With only Lungi Ngidi to turn to in 2020, the Englishman will bring a new dynamic to the three-time winners. Unlike the South African, who is a right-arm fast bowler, Ali bowls right-arm off break.
Regarding his T20 ability, Ali’s record shows that he thrives in the limited-overs format. In 2019, he averaged 27.50 runs and hit two half-centuries in 11 appearances for RCB. From a bowling standpoint, he took six wickets and recorded an economy of 6.76. Regarding his career totals for non-international T20 matches, Ali’s got 110 wickets to his name in 167 games, with a bowling average of 26.96.
Is a Revival on the Cards?
Although their talisman, Dhoni, is getting older, counting CSK out before the 14th edition of the IPL has begun would be unwise. In him, they have a true leader. Moreover, Ali offers them much-needed, top-level variation, which is something that was lacking in 2020. Of course, it’s too early to say that the 33-year-old will transform the three-time winners’ fortunes, but he unquestionably has the ability to do so.