Euro 2020 Special
 

Is this Team Chennai’s Last Dance in the Indian T20 League?

Team Chennai had an uncharacteristic season in 2020 where they failed to make it to the playoffs for the first time in the club’s history. There seemed to be plenty of issues from the very beginning and the season went on in a turbulent fashion till the very end. 

With the big auction planned to take place next year, it is pretty much certain that this iconic team will go through some rebuilding process. Just like Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls’ last dance in 1997-98, this could be the very last season we see Team Chennai trying to go all the way in the Indian T20 League under their legendary ‘Thala’ MS Dhoni.

Here we’ll do a SWOT analysis of Team Chennai ahead of Indian T20 League 2021 to see where they stand with respect to their competition in the league. 

STRENGTHS

Genuine All-Rounders

The team is packed with all-rounders throughout the XI so much so that Shardul Thakur who has recently started building his reputation as a bigger hitter in the lower order might bat at number 10 for Team Chennai. In the mini-auction, they acquired the services of Moeen Ali and Krishanappa Gowtham at hefty prices to give Dhoni plenty of all-rounders to choose from. 

They already have Dwyane Bravo, Sam Curran, Mitchell Santner and Ravindra Jadeja in the squad. It’ll just be the case of finding the perfect combination and making use of this plethora of all-rounders.

Surreal Batting Depth

With so many all-rounders to choose from, Team Chennai will have an unreal depth in their batting department this season. There could be a possibility that quality strikers of the cricket ball like Sam Curran, Dwayne Bravo or Moeen Ali may bat at number 7 and beyond. 

Indian players like Shardul Thakur, Krishnappa Gowtham and Deepak Chahar, who have plenty of batting ability will make the 9, 10 and 11 of the squad. Last season they struggled to make the best use of the batting depth they possessed but if they are to be successful this time around, they will have to use this strength to their advantage. 

WEAKNESSES

Lack of Match Practice

Too many players in this squad don’t play enough international cricket hence could be rusty coming into this season. Players like Suresh Raina and Dhoni don’t even play domestic cricket anymore so naturally, they will take some time to get to speed this season.

Ravindra Jadeja and Dwyane Bravo both are coming on the back of major injuries and are uncertain for the initial part of the competition. 

Too Many Players With Similar Attributes

A team with too many all-rounders also becomes a team that doesn’t have enough specialist players in crucial roles. They have two off-spinning all-rounders in Moeen Ali and Krishnappa Gowtham. Two seam bowling all-rounders in Dwayne Bravo and Sam Curran. Two left-arm spin all-rounders in Ravindra Jadeja and Mitchell Santner. Only three out of these six players can fit in the XI. 

In the batting front, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ambati Rayudu, Robin Uthappa, Cheteshwar Pujara and Suresh Raina are pretty similar batters who act like the sheet-anchor in the team and two from these four would certainly miss out. 

OPPORTUNITY

Uncapped Indian Players to Stand Out

All eyes would be on Ruturaj Gaikwad ahead of the season as he finished the 2020 campaign with three Man of the Match performances on a trot. N Jagadeesan was also a bright spot in the previous season’s campaign and could be playing a part this season as well. 

Krishnappa Gowtham was picked up as the highest-paid Indian domestic player at the auction and this could be his season to shine under Dhoni’s inspirational leadership. 

THREATS

Failure to Find the Best Combination 

With so many options to choose from, finding the perfect XI seems like the toughest decision for the team management to take this season. Dhoni normally doesn’t like chopping and changing quickly. Once he backs certain individuals he waits for them to come good for him. This season they seem perfectly set up as a team to be selected based on conditions and oppositions they face but Dhoni believes in consistent selections. Whoever gets left out of the squad would always be talked about as there’s an abundance of talent to choose from. 

FULL SQUAD

Faf du Plessis, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, N. Jagadeesan, Robin Uthappa, MS Dhoni (C), Ravindra Jadeja, Sam Curran, Dwayne Bravo, Karn Sharma, R. Sai Kishore, Mitchell Santner, Imran Tahir, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Lungi Ngidi, Josh Hazlewood, KM Asif, Moeen Ali, K Gowtham, Cheteshwar Pujara, M Harisankar Reddy, K. Bhagath Varma, C Hari Nishanth

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