Chennai Super Kings hoping to rediscover glory days in IPL 2023
In less than two weeks, the biggest T20 league in the world, the Indian Premier League will return with its 16th edition, which is set to kick start on March 31.
Chennai Super Kings, the second-most successful team in the league’s history will square off against defending champs Gujarat Titans in the inaugural fixture at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. After a forgetful campaign last season, which saw the MS Dhoni-led unit finish second-bottom having won just 4 games all season, CSK will be hoping to make things right in the upcoming campaign.
During the IPL 2023 auction, the Yellow Army dominated the headlines when they splashed out a staggering 16.25 crore to acquire Ben Stokes‘ services. There are also other notable picks such as Ajinkya Rahane and Kyle Jamieson although the latter has been ruled out due to a back injury. The four-time winners spent just Rs.18.95 crores in the auction, meaning those calling the shots are relatively happy with the squad that they had assembled last season.
With CSK set to return in front of their loyal fans, there’s a feel factor about them and they will be hoping to go level with Mumbai Indians as the most decorated franchise in the league.
A look at last season’s performance
Entering the season as the title winners, CSK fans were in for a shock as Dhoni announced he would be stepping down as the captain with Ravindra Jadeja handed the reins. However, the franchise began the campaign with a run of 4 consecutive defeats.
Their first win came against RCB, which was one of the only 4 matches that they would win all season, Jadeja relinquished captaincy midway through the season, he picked up an injury and was ruled out for the second half of the campaign. Dhoni stepped up once again, and CSK could only take 8 points from 14 matches, finishing a lowly ninth, just ahead of their arch-rivals MI with a better net run rate.
There were many factors that affected the Yellow Army, Jadeja appeared burdened by the captaincy, Ruturaj Gaikwad failed to score runs consistently and an injury to Deepak Chahar meant that Dhoni’s pace options were very limited.
There were a few promising signs as well, Devon Conway scored consistently, and Mukesh Choudhary rose to the fore in Chahar’s absence. CSK will be hoping to build on that this term.
New additions ahead of the IPL 2023 season
As far as the IPL 2023 auction was concerned, CSK didn’t make too many purchases instead, they went big on Stokes, who was one of the most expensive picks in the auction. They signed seven players, going big on the England Test captain, Rahane, and Jamieson.
While the franchise is yet to name a replacement for Jamieson, they also secured the services of all-rounder Ajay Jadav Mandal, another renowned all-round option was Nishant Sindhu. Bhagath Verma was signed for his base price, and top order batter Shaik Rasheed was also purchased on his base price.
Overall, only a few changes were made from the squad last season, although there have been reports claiming Stokes could miss the latter stages of the campaign to prepare for the Ashes so that could be a concern for the Yellow Army.
Predicted Starting XI
Ruturaj Gaikwad, Devon Conway, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, MS Dhoni, Shivam Dube, Deepak Chahar, Maheesh Theekshana, Mukesh Choudhary.
CSK’s biggest strength lies in its management, it’s a closely knit squad, and everyone knows their role and what is expected from them. Skipper Dhoni will be the key figure for the team once again, and from the videos and pictures that have been shared by CSK so far, the 41-year-old looks bulked up and well-prepared to smash some big sixes.
Jadeja has been absolutely unplayable since his return to international cricket and fans of the Yellow Army would be loving the fact that the all-rounder is peaking just at the right moment.
The addition of Stokes will not only add leadership but would take the burden off Jadeja as the two all-rounders would look to work in tandem. The return of Chahar would do the franchise a world of good as he will lead the pace attack, and he is also capable of smashing some big hits down the order.
The biggest puzzle in front of CSK heading into the upcoming season would be the future of Dhoni. After a failed experiment with Jadeja last year, who will lead the franchise after ‘Thala’ remains an answered question so far. Will it be Stokes, or will they go with someone like Ruturaj, only time will tell.
Furthermore, with no Dwayne Bravo, the onus will be on Chahar to lead the pace attack, but after the injury to Jamieson, and with no replacement announced so far, the Yellow Army lack experience in the fast bowling department, something which came to haunt them last year as well.
Elsewhere, the franchise has always relied on experienced players and in the IPL 2023 auction they chose not to invest heavily in the squad. While the playing XI looks sorted, should any of the star names pick up an injury during the season, then their squad depth could be exposed, as the names on the bench are on a completely different level altogether.
Chennai Super Kings are very well capable of challenging for the title this season, with Dhoni looking fitter than ever, Jadeja firing on all cylinders and Stokes’ all-round ability they have a very good chance of making it to the playoffs.
Barring a few hiccups here and there, the Yellow Army should be able to move past their woes from last season and challenge for the IPL title this time around.