With five players being sure starters, how the MS Dhoni-led side will line-up this season?
After a heartbreaking end to the 2019 season, Chennai Super Kings return to the IPL with the aim of taking over the mantle of the most successful IPL franchise from Mumbai Indians yet again. The MS Dhoni-led unit was expectedly subdued in the IPL auction and played to their strengths. However, they have a few key questions to answer before the season to identify their best playing XI.
Full Squad: Narayan Jagadeesan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, KM Asif, Ravindra Jadeja, M Vijay, MS Dhoni, Josh Hazlewood, Kedar Jadhav, Harbhajan Singh, Karn Sharma, Piyush Chawla, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, Imran Tahir, Deepak Chahar, Faf du Plessis, Shardul Thakur, Mitchell Santner, Dwayne Bravo, Lungi Ngidi, Sam Curran, Monu Kumar, Shane Watson, Sai Kishore.
Will Chennai opt for the rotation policy?
Chennai aren't known to tinker too much with their playing XI or combinations. Expectedly, their spinners remain their USP and biggest threat, and as such, expect the side to be packed with spinning options this year as well. MS Dhoni, Shane Watson, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and Deepak Chahar virtually pick themselves in this format.
This leaves them with three overseas options even after their top five players are picked and that essentially will be Chennai's strength this season. They have options in plenty in their overseas players and will look to rotate players a bit here and there. That said, they will have a preferred set of four players in mind.
The overseas players likely to be in CSK's plans (aside from Watson)
Imran Tahir, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Santner, Faf du Plessis, Lungi Ngidi, Dwayne Bravo, Sam Curran
All of their overseas stars are good enough to make the starting XI and Chennai might look to play to the conditions in picking their three remaining overseas options.
Imran Tahir has a terrific T20 record and experience of playing across conditions, but CSK's latest auction buy, Piyush Chawla, suggests that they might ponder sitting Tahir out and playing an additional overseas batsman (Faf du Plessis) or all-rounder (Mitchell Santner or Sam Curran).
Lungi Ngidi returned from injury with aplomb against England and Australia and his death bowling will be valued. He should slot in ahead of Hazlewood on most pitches. Bravo's waning prowess could see him being benched here and there for the versatile, yet raw Sam Curran.
With Jadeja a firm starting XI candidate and Harbhajan Singh and Imran Tahir adding experience, Chennai may not need much of Santner or Chawla, but they remain options in the squad. If Chawla does play, Tahir might sit out, thus paving way for Hazlewood or Sam Curran to play alongside Ngidi.
Probable XI: Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Sam Curran, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Deepak Chahar, Piyush Chawla, Lungi Ngidi
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Noah Seelam