IPL Preview # 5 - Chennai Super Kings

The coolest team, in my opinion. Not just because 'Captain Cool' Dhoni is in charge, but because this, for me, is the team capable of racking up the best totals. It's packed with clever batsmen, power hitters and all-rounders, all of whom can keep the run rate above 9 or 10 for the entire 20 overs. CSK have come close to the title twice, as beaten finalists two years ago and semi-finalists last year.

There are so many successful elements in this side, one being the number of great Indian players in the side. Also, the opening combo has fired more often than not - Haydos just keeps biffing them, and Tiny Patel has been surprisingly successful. A middle order comprising Elder Hussey, Murali Vijay, six-lover Raina, the versatile Badri and MS himself, followed by super all-rounders Albie Morkel and Big Jake = recipe for huge T20 score.

This squad is even stronger this year, with homegrown Arun Karthik and C Ganapathy having improved in leaps and bounds, and the purchases of another couple of smashing all-rounders in Justin Kemp (back from ICL) and Thissara Perera. The bowling looks decent-ish with Tyagi and Balaji, but the real strength is the spin, represented by Shadab Jakati and Ravi Ashwin, both of whom incidentally bat as well. Raina too. Ntini and Muralitharan are there too, but I believe they're way past their prime, though Murali may get a few games to prove that idea wrong. Albie and Oram (who probably won't play) are vulnerable to anyone who wants to take the attack to them.

Their squad this year -

MS Dhoni (capt), Muttiah Muralitharan, Manpreet Gony, Shadab Jakati, Arun Karthik, Thissara Perera, L Balaji, Suresh Raina, Michael Hussey, Makhaya Ntini, Thilan Thushara, C Ganapathy, M Vijay, Sudeep Tyagi, R Ashwin, Justin Kemp, Hemang Badani, S Badrinath, Matthew Hayden, Albie Morkel, Jacob Oram, George Bailey, Parthiv Patel. 

Pretty simple team structure, the core batsmen remain the same, with possible rotation systems for the all-rounder positions and spinners. The middle order isn't fixed, with Dhoni probably having plans for when he comes in early or late. He is the key batsman, as he is with Team India. My line-up would be -

Matthew Hayden
Parthiv Patel (wk)
Suresh Raina
Michael Hussey
MS Dhoni (c)
Subramaniam Badrinath
Albie Morkel
Justin Kemp
Ravichandran Ashwin
Laxmipathy Balaji
Sudeep Tyagi

Note that Albie and Kemp could easily be switched by Oram or Perera, and Balaji by Gony, and Ashwin by Jakati. That's why CSK's so great, they've got multiple options for the same spots.

My Official-sounding prediction for CSK this year - Finalists. They've got the firepower, they've got the captain. They have Napoleon Einstein. They've got Sivamani! They're cool.

Next up are the Delhi Daredevils. Until then, munch on some dosa.


The coolest team? You mean The Knight Riders' rather fetching black and gold kit doesn't give them that accolade?!

You make a big call on Murali, you really think he's over the hill? I think he might still have a year left in him. I really like Raina, he looks a class act. The bottom line is though, I cannot like any team that has Matthew Hayden within a 100 mile radius of it. Sorry!

Rishadi, I like your style. BTW, you're spot-on, esp Ntini & Murali. Big Jake, methinks is a spent-force. I'd bet on Murali Vijay @opening. Dhoni prefers 5 good options- I'd suspect your lineup is one opening bowler short... (herein lies CSK weakness: Ntitni or Gony from those available). A lot rests on Tyagi- get it right, and make it big!! PS I like all your internationals.. so, it'll be tough to slot in Ntini. Over to you. Many thanks and enjoy IPL-3.

Naaah, GreenJJ, KKR try too hard to be cool. They do have Gayle, but the team isn't really cool for me overall. Must be my perception of their owner. And Ganguly.
I do think he's past it, though to be safe I did mention he might get a few games to prove that idea wrong. Raina is a great player to watch, except when he gets a short one and hooks himself out!
You don't have to like CSK or Haydos, these are neutral-ish previews. Until I get to the Mumbai Indians!

Issac - Rishadi? Where'd that come from, lol. You may be right about Big Jake and Vijay, but I'd fancy showing faith in the success Tiny Patel's had so far.
Yeah CSK doesn't seem to have an impact fast bowler in their squad apart from (apparently spent) Ntini and Thilan Thushara, but I really would play neither. Balaji swings it at the start but can't do much later on, so yeah, Tyagi is pretty vital.
Good day to you too.

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