Three-time champions Chennai will look to regain lost glory as the Indian T20 League returns to familiar conditions in India this year.
MS Dhoni-led Chennai will face Team Delhi in their opening encounter of the Indian T20 League 2021 campaign at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on April 10.
Chennai had a dismal Indian T20 League 2020 season - which was held in UAE - as they finished seventh in the eight-team competition, thus failing to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in their history.
The team will look to turn things around by clinching their fourth title this season and here we analyse what they have in the offering for the 2021 season.
Team Chennai squad
Despite finishing at the penultimate spot in the points table last year, the Chennai team management retained most of their players. As Chennai entered the mini-auction with a purse of ₹19.90 crore, they reinforced their squad by buying England all-rounder Moeen Ali for ₹7 crore and also roped in Karnataka all-rounder Krishnappa Gowtham for ₹9.25 crore, making him the most expensive uncapped player of all-time.
Interestingly, MS Dhoni’s team also surprised everyone by purchasing Team India’s Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara for ₹50 lakh. Chennai completed their squad by roping in M Harishankar Reddy, Bhagath Varma and Hari Nishanth at their base price of ₹20 lakh.
Team Chennai squad for Indian T20 League 2021: MS Dhoni (captain and wicket-keeper), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, KM Asif, Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, N Jagadeesan (wicket-keeper), Karn Sharma, Lungi Ngidi, Mitchell Santner, Ravindra Jadeja, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shardul Thakur, Sam Curran, Josh Hazlewood, R Sai Kishore, Moeen Ali, K Gowtham, Cheteshwar Pujara, Harishankar Reddy, Bhagath Varma, Hari Nishanth.
Team Chennai strength and weakness
The presence of MS Dhoni will always be considered as Chennai’s biggest strength as they won three titles under him. Dhoni, with the most sixes in the 20th over of the competition, is expected to showcase his tenacity with the bat while bringing out the best out of his players as a captain given he is the only skipper with over 100 victories under his belt in the league. His use of spinners on the Indian pitches should make the team a tough outfit to face for any opposition.
The return of Suresh Raina to the Chennai squad is a massive boost for the franchise. The 34-year-old southpaw had withdrawn from the 2020 season of Indian T20 League citing personal reasons. Raina is currently the second highest run-getter in the league, only behind Bangalore captain Virat Kohli.
The Chennai franchise might struggle to get going in the upcoming edition of the Indian T20 League as most of their top batsmen haven't played any cricket for some time. The likes of MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina retired from all forms of international cricket in 2020 and haven’t played any competitive cricket since the last edition of the Indian T20 league, while Ambati Rayudu - who also had announced retirement - made a U-turn and recently featured for Andhra Pradesh in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021.
Star all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja has been out of action since January, having injured his thumb in India’s tour of Australia.
Who can be the highest run-scorer for Team Chennai?
Faf du Plessis was one of the few positives for the Chennai franchise in their dismal Indian T20 League campaign in UAE last year. Faf had amassed 449 runs in 13 matches at an average of 40.81 with four half-centuries to his name. MS Dhoni and Co. will once again bank on Faf to post huge totals on the board.
Who can be the highest wicket-taker for Team Chennai?
Chennai will hope that India pacer Shardul Thakur can continue his good form in the upcoming edition of the Indian T20 League as well. Thakur was the highest wicket-taker in both the T20I and ODI series against England as he helped the Men in Blue clinch both the limited-over series. The 29-year-old had scalped 10 wickets in 9 matches in the 2020 Indian T20 League and he will look to spearhead the Chennai attack this time around.
Where will Team Chennai finish in Indian T20 League 2021?
MS Dhoni-led Chennai might struggle to once again qualify for the playoffs in the Indian T20 League 2021. The lack of match practice might be a cause for concern not just for MS Dhoni but several of their key players, including Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja.
Feature image courtesy: BCCI