Just a year back, the close followers of Indian Premier League used to relate IPL as a tournament where seven other teams fight against each other to meet just to meet and lose to Chennai Super Kings in the Finals. But with the developments that took place in the past one year courtesy the IPL spot-fixing scandal, now Chennai Super Kings have become a “Fixer” team because of the involvement of their former team principal and the so-called Cricket-Enthusiast Gurunath Meiyappan who is also the son-in-law of the CSK owner and BCCI president N. Srinivasan.

But that doesn’t seem to reflect on the mind-set of the players on the field as they are a team whose worst performance in the tournament is finishing fourth in the second season in which they ended as the losing semi-finalists. Apart from that edition, the Whistle Podu men had made it to each and every Finals and have won the title twice. But it would be interesting to see how the team performs in the 2014 edition. In the 2014 IPL Players Auctions, they let the majority of their previous squad to go and signed some big names apart from retaining their core. The team will be confident to perform well and do what they do the best i.e. winning matches. Here is an analysis and pre-tournament preview for the men in yellow.      

Team in IPL:

Season

Final Position

2008

Runners-Up

2009

Semi-Finals

2010

Winners

2011

Winners

2012

Runners-Up

2013

Runners-Up

 

Team Squad for IPL 2014:

Indian Players:

Batsmen:

Bowlers:

All-Rounders:

Wicket-Keeper(s):

Overseas Players:

Batsmen:

Bowlers:

All-Rounders:

Wicket-Keeper(s):

Strengths:

  • The top order of Chennai Super Kings in very strong with the likes of McCullam, Smith, du Plessis and Raina batting in the top 3.

  • Solid middle order possessing of Bravo, Aparajith and MS Dhoni.

  • Presence of MS Dhoni, world’s best finisher at the moment makes them favourite while chasing some good totals.

  • CSK have a more than decent lower order that has Jadeja and Ashwin.

  • Ben Hilfenhaus can be lethal with the new ball.

  • Two world class spinners in the line-up who are very difficult to score against.

  • CSK are a strong fielding unit.

  • They have 4-5 capable All-Rounders in their line-up which boosts the team balance.

Weakness:

  • Apart from Ben Hilfenhaus, CSK don’t have any world class pacers.

  • Absence of S Badrinath, CSK’s go-to man in case of an early collapse in the past six seasons.

Players to watch out for:

Ben Hilfenhaus:

Be it the Indian Cricket team or the Chennai Super Kings in IPL or any other team which Dhoni leads, there seems to be a common connection between them. It is none other than the quality of pace bowling the team brings to the field. Once again for IPL 2014, inspite of having a strong batting order and spin attack, CSK’s pace department remains a worry. The battery of Indian pacers in particular are the weak links in the side. The pace department which is likely to be led by Aussie International Ben Hilfenhaus will expect the Tasmanian to come to the party. Big Ben has done it in the past for CSK when he played for them in the 2012 edition. Once again, he has his task cut-out and remains crucial for the team’s fortunes in the early overs as well as in the slog overs.

Dwayne Smith:

When Stephan Fleming was enquired about the decision to go for Dwayne Smith, Fleming, cool and composed as ever said that he has won many games for Mumbai Indians against Chennai Super Kings. So it will be better for CSK to have him in our side rather than any other side. That is the kind of impact the man from Barbados had in the Twenty20 format. For a player of Smith’s calibre, it needs only a few balls to turn the match in favour of his side. HE has also opened the batting for Mumbai Indians as well as West Indies in the past and the CSK team management will rely on him to get their innings off to a flier. He may not be as classy as Mike Hussey but he has some raw power and timing that makes him more dangerous than Hussey himself. If Smith clicks for CSK as an opener, then there is no stopping the men in yellow in the tournament.

Baba Aparajith:

In the past six seasons, whenever Chennai Super Kings’ ship is on the verge of drowning, Subramaniam Badrinath will come out and guide it safely till the end. It was expected that the CSK team management would buy him back at the Player’s Auctions. But unfortunately they decided not to retain him and the worst part of it is that none of the team went for the Tamil Nadu talisman who is also called as CSK’s umbrella. He is used as the floater in the line-up and in case of a collapse, he will bat up the order otherwise, he will be asked to bat according to the situation. His possible replacement Baba Aparajith is a talented youngster who is capable of playing International cricket soon. He broke his way into the scheme of things after his heroics in the 2012 Under-19 World Cup and has had a couple of terrific domestic seasons. Aparajith, who is yet to make his IPL debut will be more crucial for the men in yellow as the team management will look to him to fill the void left by Badrinath.

X-Factor:

Ravindra Jadeja:

A year ago, there are few players who were struggling to make their way into their National team. But two players who impressed everyone with their improved shows in the recent past are Aussie Opener David Warner and Indian All-Rounder Ravindra Jadeja. Jadeja, a hero of the 2008 Under-19 World Cup seemed to be unfit to play at the top level a year earlier that made all the social networking sites to carry some posts posted about him by the fans with a surname “Sir”. But he kept his faith in his talents, did all the hard works and made an amazing comeback and cemented his place in the Indian team. He has been brilliant with the bat, outstanding with the ball and electrifying in the field. Chennai Super Kings management played it wise in the Player retentions when they decided to retain Jadeja ahead of Murali Vijay. Jadeja remains crucial in CSK’s chances to win the tournament this year and the team management along with the fans will expect him to explode in the tournament.

Possible Playing XI:

Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullam, Suresh Raina, Baba Aparajith, Dwayne Bravo, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Mohit Sharma, Ishwar Pandey, Ben Hilfenhaus

2014 IPL Schedule:

Match No.

Date

Opponent

Venue

Time

1

April 18

Kings XI Punjab

Abu Dhabi

4:00 PM

2

April 21

Delhi Daredevils

Abu Dhabi

8:00 PM

3

April 23

Rajasthan Royals

Dubai

8:00 PM

4

April 25

Mumbai Indians

Dubai

8:00 PM

5

April 27

Sunrisers Hyderabad

Sharjah

8:00 PM

6

May 2

Kolkata Knight Riders

Ranchi

8:00 PM

7

May 5

Delhi Daredevils

Delhi

8:00 PM

8

May 7

Kings XI Punjab

Cuttack

8:00 PM

9

May 10

Mumbai Indians

Mumbai

8:00 PM

10

May 13

Rajasthan Royals

Ranchi

4:00 PM

11

May 18

Royal Challengers Bangalore

Chennai

4:00 PM

12

May 20

Kolkata Knight Riders

Kolkata

8:00 PM

13

May 22

Sunrisers Hyderabad

Chennai

8:00 PM

14

May 24

Royal Challengers Bangalore

Bangalore

4:00 PM

*All the match times are in IST