The Chennai Super Kings (CSK) have a massive season coming up – IPL 2023. Not only do they return to playing in Chennai – the IPL is back to its traditional home-and-away format for the first time after 2019 – but also the IPL 2023 is all but certain to be the last season of captain MS Dhoni.
MS Dhoni will turn 42 in July this year, and it will be highly unlikely to see him play in 2024. In fact, Thala himself had confirmed that his biggest motivation to play in IPL 2023 is to play one more time in front of the passionate, loving Chennai crowd.
And while he’ll be riding on the emotions of his last season, the serial trophy-winning captain that is MS Dhoni will want to go out with another trophy – the 5th IPL title for CSK.
CSK finished 9th in the 10-team tournament in IPL 2022, which also saw a switch in captaincy. First Dhoni handed Ravindra Jadeja the captaincy ahead of the IPL 2022, but then Jadeja gave it back to Dhoni after 6 losses in 8 matches.
CSK have made some good buys in the IPL 2023 auction – Ben Stokes being picked up for 16.25 crore made the headlines.
CSK Players bought in IPL 2023 auction: Ben Stokes (16.25 cr), Kyle Jamieson (1 cr), Ajinkya Rahane (50 lakh), Shaik Rasheed (20 lakh), Nishant Sindhu (60 lakh), Ajay Mandal (20 lakh), Bhagath Varma (20 lakh)
CSK’s squad looks well-rounded, though they will miss death specialist and finisher Dwayne Bravo, who retired from the IPL ahead of the auction.
There are still a couple of holes in the CSK squad; gaps which may not hurt their first XI, but if their depth is tested later in the tournament, then CSK might be found wanting for options.
Here are 2 big holes in CSK’s squad for IPL 2023:
No Indian backup wicket-keeper to MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni will take the wicket-keeping duties and will play in all matches he’s fit. However, it is not to forget that Dhoni is inching toward 42, and being a wicket-keeper all his career, the back has taken a toll. God forbid, if Dhoni gets injured during the tournament, then CSK don’t have any known Indian wicket-keeper backup.
Devon Conway can don the gloves, but with Stokes coming in the side -and with Moeen Ali, Dwaine Pretorius (the death-specialist Bravo replacement), and Theekshana making the 4 overseas players- Conway is now not assured of a place in the starting XI.
Ambati Rayudu used to keep wickets, but a long, long time ago, like a decade ago or so, and they would want him to hold his batting good first. CSK would be put in a really tricky position if Dhoni misses any match.
Lacking aggressive Indian batters
Whether it was Pujara in 2021, or now Ajinkya Rahane in 2023, the choices of CSK have baffled many. In IPL 2022 for KKR, Rahane had a strike rate of 103! That’s really poor for any batter in T20 cricket. His overall IPL strike rate of 120 is also below-expected from an opener.
If Rahane is to open with Gaikwad, CSK will have two openers who bat at similar tempo at the start of the innings, and this could lead to the failure of utilizing the powerplay overs. Even their last season’s opener and Gaikwad’s partner, Devon Conway, isn’t known for fast starts.
In the CSK batting-order, only Moeen Ali is a fast starter and he, too, has been in a lean patch of form with the bat in the past year.
Ben Stokes is someone who likes to play with intent – as he’s been doing in Test cricket – and can be trusted to open alongside Gaikwad and take on the bowlers right from the onset. But will CSK take punt on Stokes as an opener?
CSK Full squad for IPL 2023:
- Openers: Devon Conway, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ajinkya Rahane, Shaik Rasheed
- Middle order: Ambati Rayudu, Subhranshu Senapati
- Wk: MS Dhoni
- All-rounders: Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Shivam Dube, Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Dwaine Pretorius, Mitchell Santner, Ravindra Jadeja, Ajay Mandal, Nishant Sindhu, Bhagath Varma
- Spinners: Prashant Solanki, Maheesh Theekshana
- Fast bowlers: Tushar Deshpande, Mukesh Choudhary, Matheesha Pathirana, Simarjeet Singh, Deepak Chahar, Kyle Jamieson