After a mediocre performance in IPL 2020, the Chennai Super Kings(CSK) led by India’s most successful white-ball captain, MS Dhoni is all ready to be part of yet another scintillating season of the IPL. To set things right, they released a couple of players from the squad, who were on the wrong side of 30 and unable to contribute to the team’s cause. Then in the player’s auction for IPL 2021, they spent heavily to avail the services of Ali and Gowtham, filling the slot left vacant for quality off-spin bowling all-rounders. The squad now looks a formidable one with all the bases covered and plenty of like-for-like replacements if a casualty occurs. Thus said, unlike other teams, who have their starting XI fixed, CSK are still to figure out what their combination should be in the opening fixture. Since it is the openers whose success has gone a long way in CSK winning crucial matches and thus the titles, the management will spare no effort to choose an ideal opening combination and make sure they continue till the business end of the tournament. In the below piece, we look at 5 opening combinations CSK should try in IPL 2021:
1. Faf du Plessis and Ruturaj Gaikwad
The combination featured in the last league game for CSK, stitching an invaluable partnership of 82 to help the yellow army defeat the then KXIP to end the tournament on a high, look likely to start as openers in the initial few encounters for CSK.
Both have been in red-hot form post IPL 2020, helping their respective sides in finishing on the right side of the line. The fact that they complement each other well and can bat according to match situations goes right for them and this rich blend of youth and experience is surely going to work wonders for CSK at the top of the order.
2. Faf du Plessis and Ambati Rayudu
With the return of Suresh Raina in the middle order, Rayudu can be back as an opener for CSK if the team dynamics demands it. He did wonderfully well for them during the 2018 and 2019 seasons in the company of Australian swashbuckler, Watson and had it not been for an early injury, he would have continued doing it in the 2020 edition as well.
Both him and Du Plessis have been around for a while and know what they can expect of each other. Given this understanding and rich experience, CSK can certainly think on these lines and forge a pair capable of winning them games from seemingly improbable situations.
3. Robin Uthappa and Ruturaj Gaikwad
Having been traded to CSK from RR, Uthappa’s addition to the illustrious side seems to be done on purpose. It should be remembered that it was Dhoni, who promoted him to the opening slot while he was captain of the Indian team and even now, it seems the same reason why CSK bought him.
Yes, he had a below-par season with the Royals last year, managing just 196 at a strike rate of 119.51, but his recent showings at SMAT 2021 and in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy seems to suggest otherwise and if he can bring the same form into the IPL, there is nothing which can stop the Indian pair from dominating the tournament and winning CSK their 4th title.
4. Sam Curran and Faf du Plessis
Two overseas players, each from England and South Africa respectively can also be considered for the role of openers, providing enough solidity at the top of the order. While there is absolutely no doubt about Du Plessis’s opening skills, Curran is the latest addition to the same, who is still quite naive when it comes to setting a platform for the middle order to capitalise on.
His role will be slightly different to the openers we usually witness, where the left-hander will be expected to make the most of the powerplay overs and bring the asking rate down, taking the pressure off the middle order and designated finishers in the team. His attacking play will also allow Du Plessis to bide his time and build the innings, who later can join the Englishman in inflicting an onslaught and running away with the contest.
5. Robin Uthappa and Ambati Rayudu
With plenty of international and IPL experience, the pair of openers from South India can also be a possible option if CSK craves experience at the top of the order. Having played all their cricket on the slow and dry wickets of India, the pair knows what to expect and their supremacy playing spin is what sets them apart.
Skipper Dhoni and the CSK management too are aware of their skill-sets as a batsman and can use it to their advantage. It will be important for the 2 batsmen to play with freedom and make the most of the field restrictions, providing their side with brisk starts and breaking the backbone of a tough run-chase, an aspect which they failed to live up to in the previous edition of the IPL.