The defending champions enter the 2022 IPL with a very
similar squad to the one that won the title last year, with Chennai bringing
back 8 of the 11 players who started the 2021 IPL final this season. Although
the likes of Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis and Josh Hazlewood have moved
elsewhere, the CSK core led by MS Dhoni remains the same in 2022, along with
some interesting pick-ups such as Devon Conway, Rajvardhan Hangargekar and Adam
Considering Chennai have brought back most of the players
who won the 2021 IPL title with them last year, the Men in Yellow have a very
settled squad this season. One of the main strengths of CSK over the years has
been the abundance of all-rounders in the squad, and once again this season, MS
Dhoni potentially has four all-rounders – Moeen Ali, Ravindra Jadeja, Shivam
Dube, Dwayne Bravo – to work with, giving the side incredible balance and a
multitude of bowling options depending on conditions.
Like last season, Chennai also have a deep batting line-up,
with Dwayne Bravo likely to bat at number eight and the highly-promising
Rajvardhan Hangargekar at number nine. This depth allows the top order to bat
freely and take more risks, making Chennai a more dangerous batting line-up.
Faf du Plessis and Josh Hazlewood were two of Chennai’s most
important players in their title-winning season in 2021, and the Men in Yellow
replaced those two overseas stars with Devon Conway and Adam Milne, two players
who have yet to show the same consistency and quality in the IPL.
Chennai’s prospects of retaining the title have also been
massively hampered by the quadricep injury picked up by Deepak Chahar against
the West Indies, ruling him out of the entire tournament. Chahar was Chennai’s
most expensive purchase at the IPL auction at 14 crore, and his absence weakens
their bowling line-up significantly, forcing MS Dhoni to find new avenues of
taking wickets in the powerplay.
Player to watch out for: Rajvardhan
For a team that prefers to target experience, Chennai pulled
off a major surprise at the auction with their purchase of Rajvardhan
Hangargekar for 1.5 crore. Hangargekar was one of the stars of India’s U-19
World Cup success in the West Indies earlier this year, picking up five wickets
at an economy of 3.67 in the tournament.
Hangargekar is a quick seam-bowler and power-hitting
finisher with tremendous upside to his game, and the all-rounder could flourish
in the Chennai set-up under the stewardship of captain MS Dhoni.
Likely Playing XI
Ruturaj Gaikwad, Devon Conway, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu,
Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, MS Dhoni, Dwayne Bravo, Rajvardhan Hangargekar,
Adam Milne, KM Asif