Here we preview the CSK Team ahead of IPL 2021 and consider how the bowlers the men in yellow have at their disposal might be able to lead the Chennai based franchise back to its former glory after a disappointing season last time around.
CSK are renowned for their slow bowling options which prove very useful on the slow, low wickets of Chennai but with the IPL once again being staged at neutral venues, will CSK be able to take the necessary wickets to make an impact in this year’s tournament?
CSK Preview Fast Bowling Options
On paper, CSK certainly have the pace bowling options to be effective in this year’s tournament whatever the conditions. Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur are both seasoned campaigners who offer something slightly different with the ball. Chahar is a new ball specialist and will look to extract whatever swing is on offer during the powerplay overs. Fans can expect to see him bowl 2 if not 3 overs from the off as is demonstrated in his stats by phase of the game below
By contrast Thakur is much more of a bang it into the pitch type of bowler who has a variety of slower ball bumpers that can prove effective in the middle overs and at death again his stats by phase of the game show that he’s more likely to be utilised outside the powerplay.
What CSK have perhaps lacked recently is a genuine quick with a little bit of an x-factor who can buy a couple of wickets on good batting tracks. They do have Aussie Josh Hazlewood as well as Lungi Ngidi from South Africa and perhaps as we’ll consider later some of the venues they are playing on this season might be well suited to this pair.
Ngidi’s chances since his arrival at the club in 2018 have been limited but when he does play he has carried on his form from the international stage where he is a consistant wicket taker for the Proteas with 20 victims in his 11 IPL appearances to date.
Hazlewood meanwhile is probably least effective in this format as demonstrated from his solitary wicket in 3 outings last year and the fact that he has only represented Australia 9 times in T20 cricket in a career spanning 8 years.
Backing up these primary fast bowling options are a couple of all-rounders in the form of Sam Curran and Dwayne Bravo. Curran who was CSK’s leading wicket taker in last season’s IPL with 13 victims obviously has the advantage of being a left-armer and you sense that Dhoni likes to have that option at his disposal while Bravo is an experienced campaigner, a fact underlined by him being 2nd only to Kieron Pollard on the all time T20 appearance list.
The West Indian all-rounder managed just 6 appearances in last year’s IPL as a result of a groin injury and CSK will hope that he is fit and in form for the start of IPL 2021. My concern would be that Bravo has lost his pace and now has to rely exclusively on his slower balls. While still an effective weapon their potency is diminished when high quality batsman know that he’s unable to follow them up with a full pace delivery as was the case when Bravo was at his best.
Of the lesser known, uncapped players, that little bit of x-factor could be provided by KM Asif who has the ability to bowl 140kmph and is known for hitting his yorkers. He took 6 wickets for Kerala during the Syed Musthaq Ali trophy games in January including a burst of 3/25 against Mumbai that accounted for IPL regulars Sarfaraz Khan and Shivam Dube.
CSK also acquired 22-year-old pace bowler Harishankar Reddy who has had success on the domestic circuit but may need a little further polishing before he is ready for the IPL.
CSK Preview Spin Bowling Options
The slower bowlers have been a traditional strength of CSK. In 2019, the last time the IPL was held in India and last time that CSK got to play at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium their spinners dominated the tournament on their way to the final. However, last season away from the slow turning tracks of Chennai, the Super Kings found things much harder going in no small due to the impotency of their spin bowlers.
The decision not to find a direct replacement fo Piyush Chawla who lasted just one season at CSK following his big money move just over a year ago is curious one and suggests that Dhoni will keep faith with 41-year-old leg-spinner Imran Tahir as well as Karn Sharma who in his 3 seasons at CSK to date has been something of a bit part player. Again, the concern here is how CSK will take wickets during the middle overs without a genuine fast bowler or without a first rate wrist spinner. Tahir would have hoped to had the 2nd half of the PSL to have proved that he is the man for that role but the league’s suspension in early March means CSK enter IPL 2021 with more questions than answers in that department.
They have moved to fill the gap left by Harbajhan Singh in the finger spinning department by signing Moeen Ali and Krishnappa Gowtham who was the most expensive Indian player in this year’s auction. Alongside the left-arm spin of either Jadeja or Mitch Santner it means that CSK have plenty of options to play with again and they could be a threat in the right conditions.
In terms of younger options, CSK could turn to Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore who has been prolific in domestic white ball cricket. The young left-armer bowls fairly quick, flat deliveries that target the stumps but still manages to extract some turn. It seems unlikely that CSK would go into a match with 2 slow-left armers so unless Ravi Jadeja is injured or dropped then Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore will probably remain on the bench.
CSK IPL 2021 Venues
All player stats by venue for IPL 2021 can found on our pages
5 x matches at the Wankhede Stadium
We can see straight away that CSK have tended to use their fast bowlers more on the bouncier pitches in Mumbai. Ngidi has played on both occassions in 2018 and 2019 while Thakur has also been asked to do a significant amount of bowling. Both Bravo and Sharma have experience of the venue from their time with Mumbai Indians.
4 x matches at Arun Jaitley Stadium
The Arun Jaitley stadium in Delhi is certainly likely to provide the pitch that CSK are most comfortable on. The question is will they still be in with a realistic chance of making the playoffs when they get there? We can see that all there primary spin bowling options have enjoyed success here in the past and if that trend continues then these 4 games could be crucial to their season.
3 x matches at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium
Onwards to Bangalore and a stadium in which most bowlers economy rates suffer. Again, taking wickets is usually the best form of defence in T20 cricket so much will depend on whether CSK can find the right combinations to be a threat throughout the 20 overs. If not, sides will be able to accelerate earlier against them and at the altitude that Bangalore offers that usually means big scores!
2 x matches at Eden Gardens
CSK’s venue for the final 2 games sees them travel to Eden Gardens, a wicket that generally favours seamers with some occasional inconsistent pace and bounce. CSK’s spinners have done well to take wickets here put have generally done so while conceding runs at a rapid rate.