Chennai Super Kings are always among the favourites to lift the coveted Indian Premier League title in any given year. However, struck with the COVID-19 pandemic, the team had to suffer a huge blow before the first ball was bowled for IPL 2020.
Veterans Suresh Raina’s and Harbhajan Singh’s departures from the UAE over personal reasons has left a huge gulf for the Chennai outfit, who are due to face defending champions in the season opener on September 19.
While the no.3 spot is a major spot of bother for CSK, experts have suggested Maharashtra batsman Ruturaj Gayakwad as the likely replacement. However, retired cricketer turn analyst Aakash Chopra backed experienced South African Faf Du Plessis for the job instead. The 42-year-old former opener also picked his probable XI during the SWOT analysis of the team on his YouTube channel.
"At No.3, I am going with Faf du Plessis. I think this season will be very important for him, especially if you see from CSK’s point of view. Because if he does well, then CSK will also do well because he will have to shoulder the burden of Raina's absence. He plays spin well and is very fit also,” said the commentator.
Talking about team’s opening pair option, Aakash backed former Australia international Shane Watson and Indian middle-order veteran Ambati Rayudu to do the trick.
"At No.1, I am putting Shane Watson. He doesn't play international cricket, which goes against him. We said the same thing the last 2 years, but he went hard at the bowlers. There was a time when everyone thought that he should be dropped but MS Dhoni didn't do that and then Watson repaid the faith shown on him.
"Along with him will be Ambati Rayudu. The last twelve months have been eventful for him. He first announced his retirement and then unretired himself. Now we will have to see how he bats in the IPL,” he explained.
For the middle order, Aakash opined that skipper MS Dhoni should come ahead of Kedar Jadhav as he felt the former should be on the crease during the middle overs.
"At No.4, you can keep MS Dhoni or Kedar Jadhav. I have gone for the latter.
"So, we will have MS Dhoni at No.5. For MS Dhoni the simple rule should be that he should go into bat whenever 10-11 overs are done, irrespective of the batting position," said the former Delhi batsman.
"Because MS Dhoni likes to go with 7 bowling options, we will have to go with Ravindra Jadeja at No.6. He is doing very well but in this season he will have to do much more as a batsman, he will have a lot of responsibility on him. Earlier he used to play a supporting role, this time he will have to do the lead role for CSK."
"At No.7, I have got Dwayne Bravo. He is coming in good form from the CPL. You also have the option of playing Sam Curran instead of him as an all-rounder option,” he explained
As far as the spin department is concerned, Aakash picked South African right arm wrist spinner Imran Tahir over New Zealand’s left-arm orthodox Mitchell Santner as he felt the team doesn’t require two left-arm spinners with Jadeja in the XI. The analyst also backed veteran wrist-spinner Piyush Chawla to be the third specialist spinner in the squad on expectedly slow UAE pitches in absence of Harbhajan.
For the remaining two spots, Aakash picked young Indian pace duo Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur.
Aakash Chopra's ideal Chennai Super Kings playing XI: Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Faf du Plessis, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Imran Tahir, Piyush Chawla, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur