The Indian Premier League (IPL 2021) resumes on Sunday with a blockbuster clash between defending champions Mumbai Indians and their eternal rivals Chennai Super Kings at Dubai. CSK return to the UAE placed second on the points table, having won 5 of the 7 matches they played in India. It was here in UAE last season that MS Dhoni and his team failed to get going and eventually missed out on a knock-outs berth for the first time in IPL history. While they have already made great progress this season, Dhoni and his men would have to carry on the good work and ensure they don’t slip up.
The team is plagued by a few injury concerns to key players and Dhoni will have to take crucial calls in order to field a strong side against the five time champions Mumbai Indians.
Here is how we think CSK will square up against Mumbai Indians:
1) Ruturaj Gaikwad: The youngster has been a key member of the team since impressing in the second half of the 2020 season. Gaikwad already has 196 runs in kitty from 7 matches and CSK would depend on him for a strong start.
2) Faf Du Plessis: The South African veteran missed the business end of the CPL due to an injury but he has since made good progress and reports suggest Faf could be available for selection. If he is, then him opening the innings is a no brainer as he is the team’s highest scorer so far by a big margin.
3) Moeen Ali: The England all-rounder has impressed with the bat so far and CSK would need him to take the attack to Mumbai’s strong bowling line-up.
4) Suresh Raina: The CSK stalwart will hope to come good with the bat for the team. CSK missed Raina last season and the southpaw has a chance to remind MI and the fans of what he is capable of.
5) Ambati Rayudu: Rayudu’s biggest ability is his flexibility in the batting order. He can open, bat at number three and can also wield the long handle while coming down the order. He is expected to be the floater in the line-up.
6) Ravindra Jadeja: Jadeja will have to employ all his big-hitting skills for the team in the absence of Sam Curran. He is an asset for the team with both bat and ball and his fielding is a major plus in hight intensity matches like the one against MI.
7) MS Dhoni: Cricket fans all over the world are waiting for a Dhoni classic for a long time. He has shown glimpses of his great hitting ability once in a while but his primary job in this team will be to captain this side and get the best out of his players.
8) Shardul Thakur: The UAE pitches will have something for the fast bowlers and Shardul with his variety will hold the key. He has shown what he can do with the bat in the past and that is a major plus for the ‘yellow brigade’
9) Deepak Chahar: Chahar must be hurting from the fact he has been kept in the reserves for the ICC T20 World Cup and the paceman has an opportunity to show the selectors that he should have been part of the squad.
10) Imran Tahir: The leg spin wizard wasn’t used in the UAE by Dhoni last season, but he is a must have in a T20 side and we expect Dhoni to use Tahir’s experience
11) Josh Hazlewood/Lungi Ngidi: It’s a call that Dhoni and the CSK team management will have to make after looking the their performance in the nets. Both are capable international bowlers but death bowling is a concern for both.
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