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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Can Rutu Produce Dhoni Magic This IPL?

Can Rutu Produce Dhoni Magic This IPL?

By NORMA ASTRID GODINHO
March 22, 2024 10:44 IST
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IMAGE: A new chapter begins for the Chennai Super Kings as Ruturaj Gaikwad takes over from the legendary Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Photograph: CSK/X
 

One can always expect the unexpected from Chennai Super Kings and their talisman Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

While the pre-IPL 2024 chatter was consumed by Mumbai Indians' change of guard and Rishabh Pant's comeback, CSK made a surprise announcement on the eve of the opening game of this year's competition.

Ruturaj Gaikwad -- who CSK Owner N Srinivasan had spoken of in glowing terms during IPL 2022 -- was crowned Dhoni's successor.

Ruturaj is not new to captaincy having led India to the Asian Games gold medal last year and with a steady flow of ideas from Dhoni and other experienced players in Ravindra Jadeja and Ajinkya Rahane, the 30 year old will have enough time and help to groom himself this season.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

IMAGE: Mahendra Singh Dhoni at a training session, March 20, 2024, the before CSK announced he had stepped down as skipper. Photograph: CSK/X

The change in captaincy will not diminish the intensity from CSK players and it army of fans alike.

The scenes of victory from last year still fresh in the memory of CSK lovers as well as the players and backroom staff, there is hope that CSK could give Dhoni a fitting farewell.

At 42, and the reins handed down to Gaikwad, Dhoni could likely bring the curtains down on a famed IPL career.

CSK received a jolt when their consistent opener Devon Conway was sidelined by injury for the first leg of the tournament.

Conway scored 672 runs in 15 innings at an average of 51.69 and a strike rate of 139.82 last season.

 

IMAGE: Ruturaj Gaikwad is known for his clean-hitting, pleasing to the eye. Photograph: BCCI

Gaikwad will have a new partner at the top to forge an understanding with and sustain a bond to ensure the team gets a smooth lift-off every match throughout the tournament.

Batting Coach Michael Hussey has suggested the in form Rachin Ravindra and Ajinkya Rahane as probables for the opener's slot.

'We've got Rachin Ravindra, who plays a similar style to Devon Conway, There are other options as well. Ajinkya Rahane played so well last year. He could also move up the order,' Hussey told The Hindu newspaper.

In Shaikh Rasheed, Sameer Rizvi and Avanish Rao Aravelly (wicket-keeper/batter) CSK have unexplored batting depth.

 

IMAGE: Ravindra Jadeja and Dhoni will put their heads together for another successful season for the five-time champions. Photograph: BCCI

With experienced players like Ravindra Jadeja, Moeen Ali, Shivam Dube, Mitchell Santner, CSK look like a team ready with their arsenal even before a ball is bowled.

Jadeja will be key to CSK considering he is the partnership breaker and match-turner when pressed into service. Jadeja is the first player in the tournament's history to have taken 150 wickets and scored more than 2,500 runs. The 35 year old has 2,692 runs and 152 wickets from 226 IPL appearances. Last season, Jadeja took 20 wickets in 16 matches and scored 190 runs at a strike rate of 142.86.

IMAGE: Shivam Dube can effortlessly launch a few out of the park. Photograph: BCCI

In Shivam Dube CSK have an all-rounder whose clean big hits are reminiscent of Yuvraj Singh. He scored 418 runs in 16 matches last season, hitting 3 half-centuries along the way of CSK's title-winning run.

In Nishant Sindhu they have a young batting all-rounder who has performances to show to merit a place in the Playing XI in IPL 2024. Last July, Sindhu was named Player of the Tournament in the ACC Men's Emerging Asia Cup 2023. The off spinner scalped 11 wickets in five matches at an economy rate of 3.90.

Daryl Mitchell would love to continue his romance with Indian grounds at the IPL after a wonderful outing in the ICC World Cup late last year.

 

IMAGE: Shardul Thakur returns to CSK this season. Photograph: BCCI

Shardul Thakur has been added to CSK's fast bowling armoury. On the back of a successful showing in the Ranji Trophy, Thakur is expected to match that performance in the IPL.

A copy of Lasith Malinga, pacer Matheesha Pathirana was the bowler of choice for Dhoni when it came to putting the spokes in the opposition's wheel last season.

Pathirana was used to good effect always bowling destructive spells with his toe-crushing yorkers to magically keep CSK on track for wins. The Sri Lankan quick took 19 wickets in 12 matches at an average of 19.52.

There is also the ever dependable Tushar Deshpande. The right-arm medium pacer was among the highest wicket-takers last season -- in 16 matches he picked 21 wickets.

IMAGE: Dhoni has been training hard in the nets, showing no signs of discomfort with regard to his knee that gave him trouble last season. Photograph: CSK/X

Deepak Chahar and Mustafizur Rahman are also expected to give CSK important breakthroughs.

Sri Lankan Maheesh Theekshana along with Moeen and Jadeja will have to spin a few webs around the opposition batters and those will be contests worth a watch.

Eventually, Dhoni, with his astute captaincy, his batting and magic behind the wickets, is what CSK will be riding on.

The talent is in plenty in this squad and if this machine runs smoothly, a sixth IPL trophy will be at touching distance for Thala and Co.

Chennai Super Kings

Batters

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ajinkya Rahane, Ruturaj Gaikwad (captain), Shaik Rasheed, Sameer Rizvi, Avanish Rao Aravelly, Devon Conway

All-rounders

Ravindra Jadeja, Moeen Ali, Rachin Ravindra, Shardul Thakur, Mitchell Santner, Daryl Mitchell, Shivam Dube, Nishant Sindhu, Shivam Dube

Bowlers

Deepak Chahar, Tushar Deshpande, Maheesh Theekshana, Matheesha Pathirana, Mustafizur Rahman, Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Simarjeet Singh, Prashant Solanki, Mukesh Choudhary

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NORMA ASTRID GODINHO

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