IPL 2022: Chennai Super Kings (CSK) stick to their guns at the mega auction

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Chennai Super Kings, the most consistent team in the Indian Premier League, also called the Daddies Army off late, came into the Mega Auction with the expectation of keeping the former tag, and possibly discarding the latter. There had been talks about building a squad keeping the next decade in mind, an approach which they had followed when they first built a squad in 2008 and which had already yielded them more than a decade of success.

But when the first day of the auction (where most of the big names were sold) ended, and CSK had only 5 players from their previous squad (apart from the 4 retentions) and 1 player who was their net bowler last season to show, it raised a lot of eyebrows.

They had uncharacteristically splurged 14 Cr on Deepak Chahar, making him their most expensive signing in IPL historyand when you add to that the fact that they had already started the auction with the joint 2nd lowest purse (48 Cr), it made it really difficult for them to go beyond a certain point for players whom they would have desperately wanted.

But CSK are known for comebacks. And comeback they did. They not only managed to sign all 25 players by the end of Day 2, they did so with 2.95 Cr left in their purse. While that can be looked at as a missed opportunity to go after players they wanted a little more, they have ended up with a pretty decent squad with most bases covered, which when you add MS Dhoni’s Midas touch to it, will give stiff competition to most teams. Let us try to break it down.

CSK Openers – options for IPL 2022

Ruturaj Gaikwad, Robin Uthappa, Devon Conway, C Hari Nishaanth, N Jagadeesan

Ruturaj Gaikwad has been having a dream run ever since he made a comeback in the CSK XI towards the fag end of IPL 2020. While he is a slow starter (SR of 93.12 in his first 10 balls), his elite range against both pace and spin allows him to make it up as he displayed last season. While Faf was the perfect partner for him, who would take down pacers early on in the PP, CSK would expect either Uthappa or Conway to play that role, depending on the team combination .

Since the start of 2019, Conway has an average of 58.79 and a strike-rate of 138.32 as an opener in all T20s, and CSK might be looking at him to play a Michael Hussey kind of role. They also have domestic backups in the form of Hari Nishaanth (LHB) and N Jagadeesan (RHB) who were the highest and 3rd highest run scorers in TNPL 2021.

ALSO READ: Gujarat Titans squad analysis

CSK Middle Order – options for IPL 2022

Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, Shivam Dube, Subhranshu Senapati

Moeen Ali showed what he brings to the table when given a well-defined, top-order role. He will in all probability take up the number 3 spot once again, and can also roll his arm over for 1-2 overs on bad days , and the entire quota on better ones. While Ambati Rayudu has been playing IPL for a long, long time now, his intent and no-holds-barred approach at number 5 was a revelation last season. He played 9 innings at number 5 with an average of 40.2 and a strike-rate of 158.27.

Shivam Dube is the new entrant in the squad and will most probably be the new entrant in the starting XI as well. The general perception about him is that he is a spin-basher, but surprisingly, he has a better average and a better strike -rate against pace (22.35 and 125.20 as compared to 19.10 and 120.88) in his T20 career. Odisha’s Subhranshu Senapati is the other backup option that can be used if required. He has been a prolific scorer in the red ball for Odisha and has decent T20 numbers (avg 28.95 and SR 122.26) to show for as well.

CSK Finishers – options for IPL 2022

MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, DJ Bravo, Dwaine Pretorius, Mitchell Santner, Deepak Chahar

While Dhoni’s powers have been on the wane for a long time now, Jadeja’s powers have been on sharp increase. Together they will form the 6 and 7 and will be the primary finishers the team relies on. They also have Bravo, Santner, and Pretorius , all with more than handy batting and hitting abilities, and Deepak Chahar, whose batting confidence is on a sky-high, to help finish the innings for them. Last but not the least, they have the young pace bowling sensation, Rajvardhan Hangargekar, who can strike some lusty blows as we saw in the U19 World Cup.

CSK Spin Options – options for IPL 2022

Ravindra Jadeja, Moeen Ali, Prashant Solanki, Mitchell Santner, Maheesh Theekshana, Bhagath Varma

CSK have had issues in the spin department for the last couple of seasons. While they had Imran Tahir, who was the purple cap holder in 2019, in the squad, they did not give a lot of games. Jadeja was often the lone spinner, with some support from Moeen Ali at times. They seem to have realized that and have consequently bolstered their spin department in the auction. They have made 2 new additions in Prashant Solanki, 21-year-old leg spinner from Mumbai, and Maheesh Theekshana, mystery spinner from Sri Lanka, both of whom were net bowlers for them last year.

Solanki has played only one T20, but has been impressive in his List A career so far, picking 21 wickets in 9 innings at an unbelievable average of 5.96. Theekshana, who is very similar to the original Sri Lankan mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis, has a lot of tricks up his sleeve, including but not limited to the googly, the off-break, and the carom ball. CSK will be looking to have either of them in the XI and give Jadeja some cushion.

CSK Pace Options – options for IPL 2022

Deepak Chahar, Adam Milne, Chris Jordan, Dwaine Pretorius, DJ Bravo, Mukesh Chaudhary, Simarjeet Singh, Tushar Deshpande, KM Asif

CSK’s pace attack bears an almost entirely new look, barring Chahar and Bravo. They desperately needed a pacer who could bowl in the high 140s, and they have got one in Adam Milne. They have also added two overseas death bowlers in the form of Chris Jordan and Dwaine Pretorius to cover for Bravo. Pretorius, especially, was a revelation at the death in the 2021 T20 World Cup. In fact, in all T20s since 2020, Pretorius averages 11 and has an ER of 9 at the death. They have also got a strong Indian backup Indian pace bowling contingent in Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Simarjeet Singh, Mukesh Chaudhary, Tushar Deshpande, and KM Asif.

Hangargekar’s pace has left everyone intrigued. He was the most hyped Indian U19 player coming into the auction, and CSK going after him is a testament to his abilities. They can use him in a similar middle overs role as Shardul Thakur. Simarjeet is a tall right-arm pacer from Delhi. He was with MI last season and has been impressive in the domestic circuit. Mukesh Chaudhary is a left-arm pacer from Maharashtra with decent T20 numbers (16 wickets in 12 innings at an ER of 8.5). He was also with CSK as a net bowler last year, and so was Tushar Deshpande, another right-arm pacer from Mumbai who also has experience playing in the IPL for DC. Asif, meanwhile, has been with CSK for several seasons now.

Strengths

  • Continuity – Same core, along with same captain and management, means that they don’t have to rebuild
  • Pace bowling – Varied, Indian new ball bowlers, OS express pacer, OS death specialists
  • Spin bowling – Varied, left arm and right arm finger spinners, right arm wrist and mystery spinners

Weaknesses

  • Lack of explosive OS opener
  • Lack of options for middle order, no reliable backups for Rayudu and Dube

Probable XIs

Option A

  • Ruturaj
  • Uthappa
  • Moeen
  • Dube
  • Rayudu
  • Jadeja
  • Dhoni
  • Bravo
  • Chahar
  • Milne
  • Theekshana

Option B

  • Ruturaj
  • Conway
  • Moeen
  • Dube
  • Rayudu
  • Jadeja
  • Dhoni
  • Pretorius
  • Chahar
  • Milne
  • Mukesh Chaudhary / Prashant Solanki

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