Feature

Absence of Deepak Chahar could give Jadeja-led Super Kings a selection headache

That apart, the defending champions look a strong unit packed with experience and batting depth

Deivarayan Muthu
24-Mar-2022
Ambati Rayudu and Ravindra Jadeja will be key cogs in Super Kings' middle order  •  BCCI/IPL

Ambati Rayudu and Ravindra Jadeja will be key cogs in Super Kings' middle order  •  BCCI/IPL

Where they finished in 2021

Champions, after finishing second from bottom in IPL 2020.

Potential first XI

1 Ruturaj Gaikwad, 2 Robin Uthappa, 3 Moeen Ali/Devon Conway, 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 Ravindra Jadeja (capt), 6 Shivam Dube, 7 MS Dhoni (wk), 8 Dwayne Bravo, 9 Rajvardhan Hangargekar, 10 Chris Jordan/Maheesh Theekshana, 11 Adam Milne

Availability

Chennai Super Kings' pace spearhead Deepak Chahar is set to miss a large chunk of IPL 2022, if not more, with a quadriceps injury. The New Zealand trio of Devon Conway, Adam Milne and Mitchell Santner have been released from the national side for the forthcoming white-ball series against Netherlands and will be available to Super Kings for the entire IPL. South Africa's Dwaine Pretorius, though, will miss their opening game, since he is involved in a white-ball series at home against Bangladesh. Moeen Ali, who was vital to Super Kings' success last season, is a doubtful starter for their opener against Kolkata Knight Riders, having failed to secure the visa necessary to travel to India for the IPL.

Batting

Super Kings' batting line-up wears a familiar look, with depth all the way up to No. 11 Milne - who has four first-class fifties and one List A half-century. However, there is no Faf du Plessis at the top and there might be no Moeen in the middle order for their opening game.
If Super Kings prefer to fill the Chahar-sized hole with an overseas player, then Robin Uthappa, one of the heroes in their triumph last season, will partner Ruturaj Gaikwad at the top. In the likely absence of Moeen, Super Kings could hand an IPL debut to New Zealand batter Conway, who is rated highly by head coach Stephen Fleming. Ravindra Jadeja and Ambati Rayudu's attacking intent and experience will once again be central to Super Kings posting or chasing above-par totals. Jadeja has also been elevated to captain after MS Dhoni stepped down from the role. The addition of Shivam Dube, the hard-hitting Mumbai allrounder, lends more heft to the middle order.
Super Kings are usually averse to meddling with their combination, but they have fairly decent back-ups in the Tamil Nadu pair of N Jagadeesan and C Hari Nishaanth who have been with the squad for the past few years. Should Super Kings need them, or Odisha captain Subhranshu Senapati, at some point, they can fall back on their experience of practicing on the red-soil pitches in Surat in the lead-up to this season.

Bowling

Chahar's injury has shaken up the bowling attack, but Super Kings have plenty of other pace-bowling options - both local and overseas. Tushar Deshpande and Mukesh Choudhary have already had stints at Super Kings as net bowlers while Chris Jordan and Pretorius are multidimensional players although neither are powerplay specialists. A left-field option to replace Chahar is Sri Lanka's mystery spinner Maheesh Theekshana, who often fronts up to bowl in the powerplay.
New Zealand quick Milne, who can pound the deck with extra pace or bowl cutters into it, will likely operate in the middle overs and death as a 'shock' bowler, which Josh Hazlewood has done for Super Kings in the recent past. Dwayne Bravo is no longer the T20 phenom that he once was, and has also retired from internationals, but Super Kings still value his experience. Jordan is also prone to leaking runs at the death - he has conceded 9.67 runs an over during this phase in all T20 cricket since the 2016 World Cup.
Another cause for concern is the lack of a potent wristspinner. One-T20-old Prashant Solanki is the only wristspinner in the roster, having been picked on potential after impressing the team management at the nets last season. Having said that, Super Kings won the last IPL without using Karn Sharma's legspin and he played Imran Tahir in just one game.

Young player to watch out for

It's not often that the Super Kings splurge INR 1.5 crore (USD 200,000) on an unproven talent. This time, however, with an eye to the future, they bid aggressively for Rajvardhan Hangargekar to eventually snatch him from Mumbai Indians' grasp. A raw allrounder in the mould of Hardik Pandya, Hangargekar could potentially start the tournament for Super Kings, especially in the injury-enforced absence of Chahar.
The 19-year-old can hit 140kph with the ball and can also muscle sixes lower down the order, traits that also attracted the interest of Lucknow Super Giants at the auction. Fresh from winning the Under-19 World Cup in the Caribbean, he is preparing to take the next big step in his career, under Dhoni's mentorship.

Coaching staff

Stephen Fleming (head coach), Michael Hussey (batting coach), L Balaji (bowling coach), Eric Simons (bowling consultant), Rajiv Kumar (fielding coach), Tommy Simsek (physiotherapist)

Poll

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at