The three-time IPL champions' Chennai Super Kings are not just one of the most successful side in the tournament but also the one who attract the most attention.
This season hasn't been any different till now, what with MS Dhoni announcing retirement just before the start of the CSK training session in Chennai. A little while later, they grabbed headlines when they became the only side to be hit by coronavirus after landing in Dubai.
With Covid cases being confirmed in their ranks, the squad’s training team was also cut short.
Daddies Army - the side with most number of players’ aged above 30 - are still poised to make it work, Suresh Raina's and Harbhajan Singh's absences notwithstanding.
Squad: MS Dhoni (captain/wicket-keeper), Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, Ravindra Jadeja, Ambati Rayudu, Piyush Chawla, Kedar Jadhav, Karn Sharma, Imran Tahir, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Lungi Ngidi, Mitchell Santner, Sam Curran, Murali Vijay, Josh Hazlewood, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Jagdeesan N (wicket-keeper), KM Asif, Monu Kumar, R Sai Kishore
Support Staff: Stephen Fleming (head coach), Michael Hussey (batting coach), Lakshmipathy Balaji (bowling coach), Eric Simmons (bowling consultant), Rajiv Kumar (fielding coach), Tommy Simsek (physiotherapist), Gregory King (trainer), R Russell (team manager), Lakshmi Narayan (performance analyst), Sanjay Natarajan (logistics manager)
The CSK squad's biggest advantage is the experience at their command. They have proven match-winners who can handle any situation. In MS Dhoni, Shane Watson, Imran Tahir, Faf Du Plessis and Piyush Chawla the side has no shortage of aces.
The presence of allrounders means CSK has plenty of options in the middle order. From Bravo, Watson, Jadeja to the newly-joined Sam Curran, there is enough and more talent on offer.
In the bowling department, the side can count on their reliable spinners Imran Tahir and Piyush Chawla to do the job on the UAE tracks.
Looking at the pacers, the new addition Josh Hazlewood is expected to spice things up. This in a side that already has Lungi Ngidi, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, KM Asif and a left-arm pacer in Sam Curran.
Undeniably, the most important plus the side has is the Dhoni factor. Captain Cool's presence will be inspirational for the team as always, especially in the absence of Suresh Raina.
The absence of the Suresh Raina at number 3 will be a difficult void to fill. The loss of Harbhajan Singh too will be a blow despite the array of options available.
Batsman Ruturaj Gaikwad remains in isolation after testing positive. The BCCI is yet to clear him. Another player who tested positive for COVID-19, Deepak Chahar, is back at nets after a delay and is available to play.
Due to the COVID-19 protocols, CSK will be missing England’s Tom Curran and Australia’s Josh Hazlewood for the first two matches due to quarantine rules. The players who land from different countries are supposed to quarantine themselves for six days after testing negative.
Lack of practice?
With 13 from Team CSK testing positive, including two players, the practice time for the aged side has been cut short. Importantly, players like Ambati Rayudu and the Covid recovered player Chahar and Watson haven’t played in 2020 yet. This list includes Dhoni too, who last played in 2019.
Regrouping and regaining last season’s form will then be the biggest task for this side.
Absence of crowds
The absence of fans is a loss for all clubs but for a franchise like CSK with a thriving fan following across the country, the loss will be keener. The roars of the ‘Anbuden’ (Chepauk) will be something the players will dearly miss.
The 22-year-old England allrounder can become the wildcard for the Super Kings. The left-hand batsman can be used in the top order to bring much-needed variation. In an experienced team, this young talent could turn things around with his uniqueness, given that he is in fine fettle.
For ‘Thala’ Dhoni and team, regrouping quickly to see-off all the initial hiccups is very important. If they do this and avoid injuries, the Daddies Army are certainties when it comes to the playoffs.
- Mumbai Indians (MI) Vs Chennai Super Kings (CSK) - 19 September 2020
- Rajasthan Royals (RR) Vs Chennai Super Kings (CSK) - 22 September 2020
- Chennai Super Kings (CSK) Vs Delhi Capitals (DC) - 25 September 2020
- Chennai Super Kings (CSK) Vs Sun Risers Hyderabad (SRH) - 02 October 2020
- Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) Vs Chennai Super Kings (CSK) - 04 October 2020
- Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) Vs Chennai Super Kings (CSK) - 07 October 2020
- Chennai Super Kings (CSK) Vs Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) - 10 October 202020
- Sun Risers Hyderabad (SRH) Vs Chennai Super Kings (CSK) - 13 October 2020
- Delhi Capitals (DC) Vs Chennai Super Kings (CSK) - 17 October 2020
- Chennai Super Kings (CSK) Vs Rajasthan Royals (RR) - 19 October 2020
- Chennai Super Kings (CSK) Vs Mumbai Indians (MI) - 23 October 2020
- Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) Vs Chennai Super Kings (CSK) - 24 October 2020
- Chennai Super Kings (CSK) Vs Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) - 29 October 2020
- Chennai Super Kings (CSK) Vs Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) – 01 November 2020
- 2008: Runners-up 2009: 2nd
- 2010: Winner 2011: Winner
- 2012: Runners-up
- 2013: Runners-up
- 2014: 3rd
- 2015: Runners-up
- 2016: Suspended
- 2017: Suspended
- 2018: Winner
- 2019: Runners-up