The most eagerly awaited comeback for the IPL this year was that of the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) team. The yellow jersey is back in the IPL after completing the two-year suspension imposed as their owners were found guilty of corruption. Chennai boasts one of the greatest fan bases which is extremely devoted to its beloved team. Their joy knew no bounds when MS Dhoni’s return at the helm of CSK was confirmed. However, they have a bunch of loopholes to be filled in IPL 2018. This year they will play the tournament opener against their biggest rival Mumbai Indians (MI) at the Wankhede stadium.
In the upcoming season of IPL, CSK will play after a gap of two years and one has to agree with the fact that there has been a plethora of changes in the IPL and the cricketing world in those years. Even if we rest aside the changes in the cricketing world, CSk squad as compared to the 2015 squad is also revamped and hence, there is a bunch of players whose services will be dearly missed the CSK skipper MS Dhoni, who is a veteran campaigner when it comes to IPL. In an attempt to map out the differences between the squads, we can say that players like Ravichandran Ashwin, Brendon McCullum, Ashish Nehra, Andrew Tye, Dwayne Smith will be missed in IPL 2018 in the yellow jersey.
Over the years, McCullum and Smith have been known as one of the most destructive opening pairs in the history of IPL. Considering the madness with which the duo used to play, any bowling attack look far more diminishing in front of them, but in IPL 2018, they will not be able to spread the same magic for CSK like the good old days as Brendon will play for one of the biggest rivals of CSK, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), and shockingly, Smith went unsold in the IPL 2018 players’ auction.
Considering the bowling part, it was the Ashwin and Nehra who used to do most of the destructions for CSK by taking crucial wickets at regular intervals in most of the matches till the IPL 2015. While Ashwin will be leading Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), Nehra has already announced his retirement from all forms of cricket last year. While, when it comes to Tye, despite the fact that he didn’t do much for CSK in the previous seasons, but when he moved to Gujarat Lions (GL) in IPL 2016, he has been instrumental for them as he even picked a hat-trick as well, so if he has been retained by Chennai for the upcoming season, he could’ve been a crucial cog for them, but this year he will play under the leadership of Ashwin in KXIP.
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Now, the questions arise is whether the SRH team management has been successful in finding apt replacements of these missing cogs from the team and the answer to that will be, yes up to some extent they have found the replacements. Let’s have a look at it:
Ravichandran Ashwin – Harbhajan Singh
Ashish Nehra – Shardul Thakur
Andrew Tye – Mark Wood
Dwayne Smith – Sam Billings
Brendon McCullum – No replacement found for Bazz!!!
Over the years, CSK never had any glaring weakness but this year they may just have to cover up one. Their inexperienced pacers. Be it Ngidi or Mark Wood or Shardul Thakur or Deepak Chahar. No one has really set the stage on fire in the IPL and it may prove as the biggest roadblock in Chennai’s winning ways. Even the ardent Dhoni fans will have to agree that he is not the same explosive batsman anymore. With the absence of McCullum, they have no explosive opener, who can provide a good start in crucial matches.
Chennai Super Kings squad for IPL 2018:
MS Dhoni (C), Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Sam Billings, Faf du Plessis, Harbhajan Singh, Dwayne Bravo, Shane Watson, Kedar Jadhav, Ambati Rayudu, Imran Tahir, Shardul Thakur, Jagadeesan Narayan, Karn Sharma, Mitchell Santner, Deepak Chahar, Asif K M, Lungisani Ngidi, Dhruv Shorey, Murali Vijay, Mark Wood, Kanishk Seth, Kshitiz Sharma, Monu Singh, Chaitanya Bishnoi