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CSK need to get their balance right with Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh missing

The absence of the experienced duo could open up spots for the uncapped Ruturaj Gaikwad and R Sai Kishore

Deivarayan Muthu
Where they finished in 2019: Runners-up, losing to Mumbai Indians by just one run in a nerve-wracking last-ball finish.
Potential XI: 1 Shane Watson, 2 Faf du Plessis, 3 Ambati Rayudu, 4 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 5 Kedar Jadhav, 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 Mitchell Santner/Imran Tahir, 9 Deepak Chahar 10 Piyush Chawla, 11 Shardul Thakur
Batting: Suresh Raina's exit has stripped Super Kings of their most experienced batsman and the left-hand element at the top of their order. While Super Kings have Ambati Rayudu, Ruturaj Gaikwad, the Maharashtra and India A batsman, and M Vijay to help fill that void, all of them are right-handers and oppositions might target them with legspinners. MS Dhoni isn't big on match-ups, but, perhaps, there's a case for Super Kings to push Ravindra Jadeja or Sam Curran or Mitchell Santner up the order to provide greater balance to the batting line-up.
Super Kings' batting was rickety throughout the 2019 season, and the slow-moving legs may have gotten slower in late 2020. Watson has retired from professional cricket in Australia and the likes of Rayudu and Dhoni himself haven't played competitive cricket for a year or thereabouts. To add to their concerns, Jadhav had a lean IPL 2019, managing a mere 162 runs in 12 innings at a strike rate of under 100. If Jadhav can't quite break out of the funk this season, his state-mate Gaikwad, who is believed to have impressed Dhoni at the Chepauk camp in March earlier this year, could find a place in the middle order. They could also potentially have Deepak Chahar, Piyush Chawla, and Shardul Thakur at Nos. 9, 10, and 11. All three bowlers can bat and have made match-winning cameos in the IPL in the past.
Bowling: Dubai will be the Super Kings' home base - they will play seven of their 14 league fixtures at the Dubai International Stadium - and the tracks there tend to offer more assistance to spinners than the ones in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah do. The heat could challenge all sides, but the conditions, both overhead and underfoot, might not be too different from those in Chennai. However, Super Kings will likely miss Singh, who has also pulled out of the tournament for personal reasons. With him gone, Super Kings don't have a specialist offspinner in their squad. The only other specialist Indian fingerspinner in the roster is rookie R Sai Kishore, who was a net bowler for them in Chennai last season.
Dhoni, though, has three legspin-bowling options at his disposal - Imran Tahir, Piyush Chawla and Karn Sharma. Curran brings in the left-arm variety while Josh Hazlewood and Lungi Ngidi could be compelling with their extra pace and hit-the-deck style on quicker pitches.
Young players to watch out for: The 23-year-old Gaikwad has been a prolific performer for India A - both at home and in overseas conditions. A tall batsman, Gaikwad is adept at driving the ball on the up and piercing the gaps. He also has the reverse-sweep in his repertoire, having rolled that out off mystery spinner Akila Dananjaya during his 187 not out in 136 balls in a truncated one-dayer against Sri Lanka A last year. Then, there's the other 23-year-old, Sai Kishore, who was the powerplay specialist for Tamil Nadu in their run to the final in the most recent Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. He largely attacks the stumps with drifters and sliders, but can also turn the ball away from right-handers. Singh's unavailability could open up a place in the XI for Sai Kishore at some point in the tournament.
Coaching staff: Stephen Fleming (head coach), Mike Hussey (batting coach), L Balaji (bowling coach), Eric Simmons (bowling consultant), Rajiv Kumar (fielding coach).

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo