IPL 2020: What does Chennai Super Kings' strongest XI look like?

IPL: Key to Chennai Super Kings' (CSK) success has been its decision to stick to its tried-and-tested method of turning to experienced campaigners.

MS Dhoni has been in supreme touch with the bat for CSK in the last two seasons.   -  R. RAGU

The Chennai Super Kings (CSK) team is coming into the new season on the back of successive Indian Premier League (IPL) finals, winning one and losing last year by a single run. Key to its success has been its decision to stick to its tried-and-tested method of turning to experienced campaigners.

However, for the 2020 campaign, CSK will be missing Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh, both of whom have been regular features in the competition since its inception in 2008. While Raina has been a consistent fixture in the lineup in the last two seasons, his strike rate and average have dipped below his usual standards.

While Raina’s absence will be felt both on and off the field, this will provide CSK an opportunity to push Ambati Rayudu higher up the order, instead of having him bat at No. 4 or lower down where he struggled to play the role of a finisher. Rayudu saw success in the 2018 edition when CSK used him as an opener.

FOLLOW | IPL 2020 COVERAGE

Most of CSK’s lineup selects itself, with M. S. Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav able to play the roles of anchor and finisher to good effect. Dhoni averaged 75.83 and 83.20 with strike rates of 150.66 and 134.62, respectively, in the last two editions. His form can be attributed to his promotion to No. 4 and 5 in those years, allowing him the time to get his eye in before unleashing his big hits.

Australian paceman Josh Hazlewood’s availability for this season could provide CSK with two wicket-taking new-ball bowlers along with Deepak Chahar. Considering that the wickets will get slower through the tournament, Piyush Chawla could be a spin-bowling option alongside Jadeja and Jadhav. Imran Tahir could also get a look-in place of Hazlewood later on in the tournament.

The wildcard in the squad will be Englishman Sam Curran. The purchase of Curran can allow CSK to pack the middle and lower middle order with bowling all-rounders who can use the long handle to good effect alongside Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja. Curran smashed a 23-ball fifty last season and can provide variation to the bowling attack with his left-arm medium pace.

Another option will be the southpaw Ruturaj Gaikwad, who is yet to make his IPL debut. It will be interesting to see if Stephen Fleming and Dhoni opt to use the 23-year-old in the No. 3 slot ahead of Rayudu. Gaikwad strikes at 135.31 in the shortest format of the game and has six fifties.

Strongest XI

1. Shane Watson (Overseas)

2. Faf du Plessis (Overseas)

3. Ambati Rayudu

4. Kedar Jadhav

5. M. S. Dhoni (C & Wk)

6. Ravindra Jadeja

7. Dwayne Bravo (Overseas)

8. Piyush Chawla

9. Deepak Chahar

10. Josh Hazlewood (Overseas)

11. Shardul Thakur

Wildcards: Sam Curran, Ruturaj Gaikwad

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