Raina out, Bhajji Out, Favorites Tag gone, but has that ever mattered to MSD?
After being out of action for more than a year, MSD will be geared up to be back in action. CSK's biggest strength is his ability to get the best out of the team at his disposal. The core of the team (minus Raina) remains the same. A couple of youngsters (read Ruturaj Gaukwad) could see the absence of stalwarts as the silver lining to shine during this campaign.
What does CSK have it in store for us this season?
Sam Curran: The all-rounder from England will fancy his chances on the pitches of UAE and can be effectively used by MSD as a floater in the batting order (remember Irfan Pathan?).
Piyush Chawla: He is way past his prime but he has the envious record of hitting the winning runs for KKR during the both the occasions when they have won the IPL. With Sai Kishore knocking on the door, Chawla would want to put up strong performances to keep the youngster waiting in the dressing room only.
Josh Hazlewood: If his performances during the recently concluded England tour are any indication of his form and fitness, CSK have made a right choice in getting the tall fast bowler in their ranks.
Sai Kishore: The chances of him getting more games have increased with Bhajji gone. The pitches in UAE will suit the Tamil Nadu left arm spinner.
Newbies to look out for:
He was the highest run-getter for Maharashtra in the league stage of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2018-19. This IPL could be a platform for him to get recognized at the biggest stage of his career.
He is expected to be a backup for Dwayne Bravo. He can justify the price tag if he can replicate some of his performances of last year during this season. (Remember the hat-trick?)
The hit the deck bowling is expected to be the way forward on the flat decks of UAE. A clever and composed customer with the ball, Hazlewood certainly has the big-game experience and temperament required to make a splash in the big leagues.
Match winners for CSK:
CSK has always had the privilege of having match winners who have taken them across the line on various occasions. May it be Watson's heroices in 2018, Dhoni's power hitting across the seasons, Raina bulldozing bowlers or Bravo's super catches with humongous sixes.
Who will do it for them, this season?
With all the noise around his future in Indian cricket gone, we can see the old Mahi version toying with the minds of bowlers from other teams. He is expected to make the number 4 spot his own. A big season for MSD normally leads to a bigger season for CSK.
Jaddu needs to be at his magical best in the UAE both with bat and ball to give CSK the X-factor for the entire season. His fielding will also be a key contributor on the huge grounds.
With 3 world cups in the next 3 years, IPL 2020 will be important for Chahar to keep himself amongst the mix for the Indian team. Wickets with the new ball will be the key but he has the capability to surprise everyone with his pinch hitting.
Faf Du Plessis
We expect Dhoni to be a bit rusty but if he can dust off this rustiness come the 19th of September, we can expect CSK to make it to their 11th playoff.
You expect that from CSK and Dhoni. Don't you?