Here we preview the CSK Team ahead of the IPL 2021 and consider how the batsmen the mean in yellow have at their disposal might be able to turn around a poor showing in last year’s tournament.
Preview CSK Capped Top-Order Batsmen IPL 2021
Top order runs are an essential part of any sides hopes of making the playoffs but in that regard CSK have failed to have one of their top order hit the magical 450 run mark that signifies a really big year in each of the last 2 IPL seasons.
While playing at home in Chennai where scores are harder to come by and CSK feel confident of defending pretty much any total with their armoury of bowling options, that hasn’t been so much of a problem but outside of the MA Chidambaram Stadium they will need to score faster and score bigger than they have in previous IPL seasons if they hope to climb back up the rankings.
Much then will depend on the experienced Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina and Ambati Rayudu to get them off to positive starts in the coming IPL. Du Plessis has been fairly consistant over the last few years for CSK but perhaps the bigger concerns are over Raina and Rayudu who have had a couple of quiet seasons including of course the former missing last year’s IPL altogether.
Indeed, since the end of IPL 2019, Raina has played just 5 List A T20 matches all of which came in this seasons Syed Musthaq Ali Trophy, where he averaged 34 at a strike rate of 113. The rumour mill was rife with speculation that last seasons exit from IPL was due to a fallout with MS Dhoni and the leadership at CSK and Raina’s decision not to join up with the CSK training camp that is currently underway hasn’t done anything to quell the whispers that not all is rosey in his relationship with the franchise.
Rayudu meanwhile has warmed up nicely with a couple of more significant innings for Andhra in the Syed Musthaq Ali trophy and CSK will hope that he can recapture the form he showed in 2018. His run scoring in that IPL season helped get him back into the Indian white ball team and he seemed a shoo-in for the 2019 World Cup squad before being overlooked. That can’t have done his confidence any good and neither can his constant shifting up and down the order. At 35 years old, this may his last chance at redemption with a mega auction looming next year.
Speaking of players past their best, Robin Uthappa who has become something of journeyman crickter in recent years has found a new home at CSK who become his 3rd franchise in as many seasons. Uthappa averaged just 16 in last years tournament and has managed just 2 half centuries in the past 3 IPL seasons. He is joined by Test favourite Pujara who has unsurprisingly failed to win an IPL contract for some time but whom CSK have decided to add to their ranks for this year’s competition.
It’s difficult to see how either of those players will be making a significant contribution to solving the problem of top order runs noted above and so it must surely be time for CSK to consider some of the younger uncapped options that they have at their disposal.
Preview CSK Uncapped Top-Order Batsmen IPL 2021
The young right hander announced himself to the IPL at the back end of last season and might have played more than the half a dozen matches he did had he not have tested positive for Covid-19 a couple of weeks before the tournament was due to begin.
Things didn’t start particularly well for the youngster as he recorded scores of 0, 0 and 5 in his first 3 IPL matches but he followed that up with 3 back to back half-centuries. Starting with this effort to guide his team to a victory against RCB. He then followed it up with another excellent knock against KKR and while he didn’t quite see the job through on this occasion his 72 from 53 balls laid the platform for Ravi Jadeja’s late heroics as he hit a 6 to win off the final ball.
He comes into IPL 2021 off the back of some scratchy form for Maharashtra in limited overs cricket. A brilliant 102 against Himachal Pradesh accounts for over half the runs he has scored in his last 10 innings and CSK will be hoping that he can return to the kind of consistency that he showed at the back end of last year’s IPL which will surely make him one of the uncapped players to watch in this years Dream11 fantasy cricket game.
Another young up and coming top order batsman at CSK, Jagadeesan didn’t quite hit the heights that Gaikwad did in last year’s tournament but that was as much about opportunity (he had 2 at bats during his 5 appearances) as it is about talent.
The right-hander who can also keep wicket has in the meantime been scoring plenty of runs in domestic cricket in both T20 and 50 over forms for his native Tamil Nadu. In fact, he was the top runs scorer in this year’s Syed Musthaq Ali T20 tournament with 364 runs at an average of 74.8 including 4 half centuries in the 8 fixtures played. Since then he has also top scored for Tamil Nadu in the recently completed Vijay Hazare Trophy which included a century in the opening match against a Punjab bowling attack boasting the likes of Sandeep Sharma, Siddarth Kaul and Arshdeep Singh.
Jagadeesan’s partner in crime at Tamil Nadu is Chezhian Harinishanth a left handed batsman who also had a successful Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy that led to him being signed by CSK for this year’s IPL.
Given his fairly limited experience in list A cricket this years IPL may come too soon but he’ll certainly be looking to take plenty away from training with some of the biggest names in IPL history.
Preview CSK middle and lower order batting
Despite their disappointing IPL 2020, CSK didn’t make wholesale changes to their squad but one area that has seen some new faces is in the all-rounder spots.
Moeen Ali and Krishnappa Gotham join the likes of MS Dhoni, Sam Curran, DJ Bravo and Ravi Jadeja in what looks like a strong engine room for CSK. Of course it’s not impossible that CSK might look to promote one of the English all-rounders up the order as a pinch hitter in the same way that they did with Curran last year.
The other question that we will only know the answer to later in the season is whether Dhoni’s relatively poor returns last year were just a one off or whether it is symptomatic of a steady decline that could spell the end of a glittering career. The 39-year-old failed to score a half-century last season and no longer plays in any other format or tournament other than the the IPL meaning that by the time the 2021 IPL starts he won’t have hit a ball in anger in 5 months. My feeling is that this will be Dhoni’s swan song and that he won’t return for what will be a much changed IPL in 2022.
Preview CSK IPL 2021 Venues
Here we look at the CSK player stats by the venues the they will play at
5 x matches at the Wankhede
The Wankhede is one of the faster pitches in the IPL and in many ways is the exact opposite of what CSK batsman get at their home venue in Chennai. In general it’s not been a happy hunting ground for them although at the same time they won’t be playing Mumbai Indians there which will come as a relief.
4 x Matches at Arun Jaitley Stadium
By contrast Dehli’s pitches tend to be a little slower and lower and we immediately see that CSK’s batsman have profited in more familiar conditions. There 4 games here will be a chance for CSK to get runs on the board and dominate from there.
3 x matches M. Chinnaswamy Stadium
Generally a good batting track and at altitude we see averages of most batsman as well as their strike rates rocket up. The one strange exception is Suresh Raina who hasn’t enjoyed playing in Bangalore across his career perhaps as a result of the extra pace and bounce on offer.
2 x matches at Eden Garden
CSK will finish off the round robin with 2 games at Eden Garden where most of their squad have a positive record.
CSK will be hoping that a couple of their senior pros can rediscover some early form in this year’s IPL but perhaps the defining factor to their batting success will be how quickly they can integrate the uncapped batsmen into the side full-time and make them into established IPL stars.
If the top-order can fire and get CSK into promising positions then they do have the lower order hitters this year to add big runs later on in the innings. All in all, i’d expect the CSK batting line-up to bounce back from last year’s disappointment and make them a difficult team to beat once again.