That squad looks more like an over-aged one for T20 cricket was the opinion of a number of cricket fans about Chennai Super Kings. As it went the two-time champions looked like they had invested more on experience than on talent, however, at the end of it, they had managed to form a balanced unit loaded with firepower across all fronts. Batting has been one of CSK’s major strengths in the IPL and this season is no different with the team roping in a number of explosive options both on top and the middle. The allrounders are likely to give MS Dhoni and extra edge when he puts his eleven on the field.
Chennai Super Kings apart from having a plethora of T20 experience in their batting from the likes of Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Ambati Rayudu and Faf Du Plessis will also look for inspiration from the young Indian superstars in Dhruv Shorey and Narayan Jagdeeshan, who are both in line to make a formidable partnership with Murali Vijay at the helm of Chennai’s batting. While Jagdeeshan has been superb with the willow for Tamil Nadu in the domestic circuit, averaging close to 44 in his first-class career spanning nine games, Shorey was a revelation for Delhi in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy where he put up some strong performances with the bat alongside Rishab Pant. Shorey currently averages 55.31 in his First-class career with 1217 runs from 18 games. English batsman Sam Billings is another exciting prospect to watch out for in the CSK dugout.
In the bowling department too Chennai Super Kings have picked up young pacers to lead the pack with veterans Dwayne Bravo and Shane Watson who can come handy with the ball any day. Shardul Thakur would be rearing to prove his mettle under Dhoni and will find support from South African sensation Lungi Ngidi who rose to fame with his scintillating performance in India’s tour of South Africa. KM Asif, Deepak Chahar and Kanishk Seth are the other fast bowlers CSK have put their bet on, Here we will take a look at 5 youngsters who can be MS Dhoni’s game changers in the IPL 2018 as he readies his troops in quest of a third IPL glory.
Shardul Thakur: The knuckleball specialist has already shown what he is capable of in South Africa and then in Sri Lanka. He single-handedly destroyed Sri Lanka in India’s third encounter at the Nidahas Trophy finishing with figures of 4/27 in four overs. Chennai Super Kings are likely to give Thakur the role which Ishwar Pandey had been doing for them for the past few seasons. Dhoni can be utilising Shardul’s ability to swing and his variations to the best while moulding him as a genuine contender for a spot in the Indian side. Shardul Thakur with 44 wickets in 41 games has a long way to go but will be rearing to find his best rhythm under Dhoni.
Lungi Ngidi: Not every 22-year-old can bowl with the same pace and accuracy as Ngidi. The South African storm rose to fame against India in the recently concluded Test series which India lost 2-1. He picked up 14 wickets in three games at a brilliant average of 16.42. He has been equally effective with the ball in T20s with six wickets from 3 games at an economy close to 6. Ngidi has already announced his arrival in Chennai with videos of him dancing to the local tunes, it will be interesting to see if he does the South African samba at the Chepauk after dismantling the batsmen in the most fiercely competed T20 league in the world.
Sam Billings: The prodigious English southpaw had an outstanding Big Bash League campaign with the Sydney Sixers. If MS Dhoni won’t mind dropping the gloves for a game or two and steer the Chennai Super Kings from the field, Billings can be the man taking the role of the stumper. He has a knack for runs in the limited over format and can be an option to pair up with Vijay as an opener for the left-hand, right-hand combination. With 2441 runs in 132 matches, Billings averages close to 23 in T20s and has maintained a decent strike rate of 128.06 throughout.
Dhruv Shorey: The swashbuckling Delhi youngster has had a great domestic season and will be fighting for a place against some of the best batsmen at the Chennai Super Kings, but Shorey’s abilities are certainly not to be undermined. He scored a gritty century in the finals of the Ranji trophy in the losing cause for Delhi. With 379 runs in 14 innings at an average of 31.58 a strike rate of 124.67, Shorey has an impressive T20 record and will be hoping to capitalise on his chances under Dhoni.
Deepak Chahar: The 25-year-old has been one of the most consistent wicket takers for Rajasthan in the domestic circuit. With an impressive 113 scalps in 40 matches, Chahar can also do a job with the bat. Thanks to his decent show for the Rising Pune Supergiants in the IPL 2017, he was picked by the Chennai Super Kings for the upcoming IPL. Injuries have been a roadblock in his progress to the top but Chahar has always found his way back. A lot would be expected from him in the IPL 2018, but Stephen Fleming will ensure he gets what he wants from the medium pacer.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Suresh Raina, Kedar Jadhav, Dwayne Bravo. Karn Sharma, Shane Watson, Shardul Thakur, Ambati Rayudu, Murali Vijay, Harbhajan Singh, Faf Du Plessis, Mark Wood, Sam Billings, Imran Tahir, Deepak Chahar, Mitchell Santner, Lungisani Ngidi, Asif K M, N Jagadeesan, Kanishk Seth, Monu Singh, Dhruv Shorey, Kshitiz Sharma, Chaitanya Bishnoi