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The IPL is around the corner and it’s that time of the year when the ‘Whistle Podu’ fans get going. The joint most successful franchise, the Chennai Super Kings, go into yet another season with the expectation of going into the playoffs. As it’s often termed on social media, ‘IPL is a tournament where 7 teams play to contest CSK in the Final’.
The defending champions have not tinkered much with their squad, having added only 2 players and retaining the bulk of their title winning squad from the last season. The Stephen Fleming coached side has added Mohit Sharma to their squad, having bought him for a whopping 5 crores at the auction. The pacer who will make a return to the side, will probably take the place of Lungi Ngidi, who has been ruled out of the season with injury. Deepak Chahar should be able to hold his place in the side, after an impressive last season.
The team, which was termed as an ‘old’ side proved everyone wrong as their experience was crucial in CSK lifting the trophy. CSK’s hopes this season will rely on their core which includes the skipper MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Rayudu and DJ Bravo. The franchise will be glad that Shane Watson was in good touch in the BBL and PSL, and will hope that he carries his form into the mega event. Faf Du Plessis and DJ Bravo may well be overseas certainties in the Playing XI, owing to their experience and skill.
CSK’s fortunes, like every other edition, depends on the captaincy of Captain Cool MS Dhoni, who is a legendary captain and a fine keeper, and who will certainly embellish the team he has with his leadership skills.
One bowling spot however is up for grabs, and it may well be a rotation between Harbhajan Singh, Karn Sharma and Deepak Chahar. Dhoni likes to carry bowling options on the field, and this season will be no different.
With the World Cup around the corner, other teams will face the problem of players not being available for a part of the season, but the 3-time champions are fortunate that most of their players are retired or not a part of their national side’s World Cup plans. Also, the team has got options in various slots, which is an essential factor in an extensive tournament like IPL where injuries are frequent.
A lot will depend on the form of CSK’s Indian batsmen who were crucial last season, with Rayudu and Dhoni having the best IPLs of their careers. Considering the history of the franchise, and having a captain like Dhoni, it’s foolish to count out the side, as it will back itself to reach the playoffs, and the final.
CSK will follow the tradition of champions playing the opening game, as it takes on the Royal Challengers Bangalore at Chepauk in the season opener. The hype will of course be ‘Kohli vs Dhoni’.
Probable Playing XI: Faf Du Plessis, Shane Watson, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, DJ Bravo, Mitchell Santner, Mohit Sharma, Deepak Chahar