Among the ten teams in the Indian Premier League (IPL), Chennai Super Kings have an emotional bond with the fans and one of the main reasons is skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The 41-year-old Dhoni has led the team to four titles and taken them to the finals nine times. His mere presence is enough to terrify the opposing camp. This might be his last season as a professional cricketer and he will leave no stone unturned to make it one to remember.
IPL has now returned to ‘Home and Away’ format and Chennai have to play seven matches at their stronghold Chepauk. The Chennai team, which failed to reach the playoffs last season, was handed over the captaincy to Ravindra Jadeja but Dhoni was later made the captain again. He will be looking to leave with a win. It would be foolish to take Chennai lightly in the IPL and this season is no different. England all-rounder Ben Stokes is now in the team who can prove to be the X factor.
The presence of Ben Stokes will strengthen Chennai’s cross-hitting. On the slow Chepauk pitch, he can bowl one or two brilliant overs which can turn the tide of the match. Ravindra Jadeja and Moeen Ali could also prove to be very effective in the seven home matches at Chepauk. Devon Conway and Ruturaj Gaikwad will be useful with the bat while Ambati Rayudu, Stokes, Dhoni and Jadeja will strengthen the middle order.
Mukesh Chowdhary has been ruled out of the tournament due to injury which is a big blow for CSK. Deepak Chahar is making a comeback after recovering from back and hamstring injuries. His fitness has not been tested in match conditions. He is a contender for a place in the World Cup squad and would like to do well in the IPL.
In the fast bowling, young Simarjit and Lasith Malinga with action like M Pathirana will have a chance to prove his worth. Dhoni is a master at testing talent and knows how to use the rule of ‘Impact Player’ very well. In such a situation, Mitchell Santner will also be useful.
The biggest challenge before CSK is the aging of its players. Rayudu and Ajinkya Rahane can come under pressure in high scoring matches. Apart from this, the team also does not have good Indian spinners. Jadeja has not been able to perform that well in T20 recently.
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