IPL 2021: Chennai Super Kings and their mission to exorcise the UAE demons.
In IPL 2021, MS Dhoni and his crew will be gunning for the consistency and winning-mantra that defines CSK.
2020, staying true to its nature, proved to be a tumultuous year for Chennai Super Kings as well.
IPL 2020 ended up being the first occasion in which MS Dhoni's brigade failed to make it to the playoffs of the coveted tournament that they've won thrice.
IPL 2021 will answer the question of whether UAE marked the beginning of the end of an era or if it was simply an odd glitch in the matrix.
'Intent', a word India's most successful captain often uses proved to be the thorn for CSK last season.
Intent, or the lack of it, often crippled what seemed like straightforward run chases and winnable games.
The age factor of the side became a major point of discussion as well while Dhoni's own waning prowess with the bat.
Chennai Super Kings did not make too many moves during the auction but made a smart investment on Moeen Ali for INR 7 Crores.
Also, in IPL 2021, CSK will be able to count on the services of their loyal servant and Mr. IPL himself, Suresh Raina.
Stephen Fleming, his think-tank, and MS Dhoni have proved time and time again that successful IPL campaigns come rather easy for Chennai Super Kings. Whether that proves to be the case this year or not, is indeed the million-dollar question.
We take a look at CSK's chances of making a strong impression in IPL 2021 after a dismal show last season.
What are Chennai Super Kings' strengths ahead of IPL 2021?
An unrivalled leadership group
There's a reason why Chennai Super Kings made it to the playoffs every year since IPL 2008. Well, until last year that is.
Stephen Fleming and especially, MS Dhoni have been able to carve a behemoth of a franchise that has survived the test of time almost better than anyone else in the IPL.
Despite a plethora of changes over the years, be it in terms of players, venues, or CSK's own discontinuity for two years, somehow when the season begins, the noises are brushed aside and a campaign is crafted impeccably well.
It is impossible to do that without a sharp leadership group with clear vision and an immaculate ability to transmit it on to the players.
A batting order that combines talent and experience
Hear the names: Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran and Ruturaj Gaikwad.
The first six names have 63 years of international cricket between them. They have been in almost every possible cricketing scenario imaginable and have seen it all and have almost won it all.
Then there's the dynamic Sam Curran who continues to stamp his authority in the world of cricket as the 'next big thing'.
Ruturaj Gaikwad has improved immensely with time which was evident towards the business end of the season where he helped CSK to narrowly avoid the blushes of a last-place finish.
Given the repertoire of icons he can look up to in the team, he'll be expected to make several leaps in his career.
A decent bowling attack
Chennai Super Kings possess quite a strong pace attack, which is obviously buoyed by the presence of Shardul Thakur or 'Lord Shardul' as he is known these days.
Thakur proved his mettle against some of the toughest batsmen in the world over the last few months and CSK fans will have massive expectations from him this season.
Partnering him in attack will be Deepak Chahar who has a pretty impressive CV on his own.
Chahar picked up 22 wickets in IPL 2019 and will be looking to repeat similar performances from that season.
Lungi Ngidi might go for runs every now and then, but the South African brings a lot of gusto to the pace attack.
Also, the Englishman Sam Curran can chip in with over 10 wickets a season.
What are Chennai Super Kings' weaknesses ahead of IPL 2021?
Overall age of the squad
Chennai Super Kings' squad age proved to be a major cause of concern in the UAE and they have stuck to pretty much the same team for IPL 2021.
T20 cricket is fast-paced and testing and players like Dhoni, Raina, Rayudu and Tahir who have retired from international cricket and do not play a lot of domestic cricket have struggled to find match rhythm.
Home advantage neutralized
Chennai Super Kings have mounted successful IPL campaigns off the back of a near-flawless record at the Chepauk.
Therefore, the home ground has a major influence on CSK's squad building plans which happened to be the case during the auctions for the last two seasons as well.
With the announcement of IPL 2021 being played in neutral venues this season, that trump card can end up backfiring for the side.