The yellow jersey is back in the IPL after the two-year imposed suspension. Chennai Super Kings will be longing to get back on the field and establish their authority once again. The fan base of Chennai is actually one of the biggest X-factors that they possess. The incredible turnout in the recent warm-up match of CSK showed the strength of the fandom. They begin the campaign with an opening encounter against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede stadium on Saturday, 7th April.
CSK was one of the smoothest operators in this year’s IPL auction. On the first day, they were much ridiculed for picking an oldies team since all their selection were on the wrong side of 30. On the second day, they made return of sorts and picked numerous little-known talents to complete the squad. Let us have a look at the two players who will be the X-factors for CSK this year.
The English right-handed batsman who can also keep wickets is a valuable pick. The 27-year old is yet to establish himself in the England team but he has the experience of playing around the globe. He has played in the IPL before for Delhi Daredevils. He has participated in PSL for Islamabad United and Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash League.
Billings hails from a sporting family. He plays for the Kent county in England domestic setup. He has already played in 13 ODIs and 17 T20Is for England. Although he averages only 14 in his T20I career, he has a strike rate of 135. His highest score 53 came against Pakistan in Dubai, he was declared Man of the Match for his performance.
Playing for the Delhi franchise, Billings has taken the field in 11 IPL games. In these, he has scored 226 with two fifties and a strike rate of 134. This year, CSK does not have an opening batsman who can thrash the ball from the onset. Fitting that role, Billings may very well be the player Dhoni needs.
The Mumbaikar fast bowler is slowly making his way into the Indian team. Shardul Thakur who came into prominence on the back of a few very good seasons for his domestic team in the Ranji Trophy has not exactly managed to set the world alight with his international performance but he has not been a disaster also.
In absence of some major Indian players, Shardul received his first real chance to display his talent was in the recently concluded Nidahas Trophy – a T20I Tri-series played in Sri Lanka. He took a one four-wicket haul which earned him the Man of the Match award but in rest of the matches, he was taken apart.
Being very good at bowling the knuckleball will serve Shardul well. He has played 13 IPL matches so far for the Kings XI Punjab and Rising Pune Supergiants where he picked 12 wickets at an economy of 8.57. With the added international experience now, CSK will expect Shardul to spearhead the Chennai pace attack and deliver as needed for the team.