Assessing the Chennai Super Kings IPL Squad for 2021

By Ben Morris in Cricket
| February 27, 2021 9:00 am PDT

Having missed out on the playoffs for the first time in the franchise’s history last year, Chennai Super Kings’ squad for the 2021 IPL season has been given a makeover.

Indian Premier League legends like Shane Watson and Harbhajan Singh left the club at the end of the previous campaign. But with MS Dhoni sticking around, Suresh Raina making a return, and Moeen Ali joining the side, CSK’s 2021 IPL squad is looking strong.

In this post, I analyze the Super Kings’ roster for the 2021 Indian Premier League season, looking at squad depth and overseas players, as well as predicting the new CSK starting XI.

Can Chennai Super Kings’ 2021 squad get the three-time IPL champions back to where they belong? Let’s find out.

Chennai Super Kings Squad for the 2021 IPL Season

Let’s start by taking a look at CSK’s squad for 2021. All the players highlighted in bold are new buys, meaning they were selected at the 2021 IPL auction.

Batsmen

  • Ambati Rayudu
  • Faf du Plessis
  • MD Dhoni (c & wk)
  • Narayan Jagadeesabn (wk)
  • Ruturaj Gaikwad
  • Robin Uthappa (wk)
  • Suresh Raina
  • Chesteshwar Pujara
  • C Hari Nishaanth

After sitting out of the previous IPL campaign due to personal reasons, Suresh Raina is back for CSK this year. Despite missing the entirety of the 2020 season, the veteran still sits second on the IPL’s all-time run-scoring leaderboard.

It goes without saying that Raina’s return makes the Super King’s 2021 IPL squad look a lot stronger, especially in the batting department.

LEADING RUN-SCORERS IN IPL HISTORY
Player Innings Runs
Virat Kohli 184 5,878
Suresh Raina 189 5,368
David Warner 142 5,254

Losing the recently retired Shane Watson is obviously a big blow for the Super Kings, although the franchise’s batting line-up still boasts solid depth. South African star Faf du Plessis was CSK’s highest scorer last season (449), while Ambati Rayudu also impressed with the bat last year (359).

Chesteshwar Pujara and CH Nishaanth were acquired in the 2021 IPL auction, bolstering the squad’s batting options.

All-Rounders

  • Dwayne Bravo
  • Mitchell Santner
  • Ravindra Jadeja
  • Sam Curran
  • Bhagat Varma
  • Krishnappa Gowtham
  • Moeen Ali

It could be argued that Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja are both among the best Indian Premier League players of all time – so keeping hold of the influential pair was a no-brainer for CSK.

In fact, the Super Kings’s 2021 IPL squad is stacked with world-class all-rounders. Mitchell Santner and Sam Curran have both been retained, while Bhagat Varma, Krishnappa Gowtham, and Moeen Ali were all picked up during the auction.

Ali, who represented RCB between 2018 and 2020, is the most notable addition in this department. The England international is widely regarded as one of the best off-spinners in the world – and he can smash a ball, too!

CSK’s 2021 IPL squad is brimming with top-quality all-rounders.

Bowlers

  • Deepak Chahar
  • Imran Tahir
  • Josh Hazlewood
  • Karn Sharma
  • KM Asif
  • Lungi Ngidi
  • R Sai Kishore
  • Shardul Thakur
  • Harishankar Reddy

It’s safe to say that bowling is the area where CSK coach Stephen Fleming will be looking to improve the most this year.

Last season, all-rounder Curran was the leading wicket-taker for the Super Kings, claiming 13 scalps in as many innings. To put things into perspective, DC’s Kasigo Rabada – the 2020 IPL leading wicket-taker – picked up 30 wickets.

Overseas players like Imran Tahir, Josh Hazlewood, and Lungi Ngidi were only able to play a handful of matches last season. If that trio can feature more regularly in 2021, CSK’s bowling attack could be deadly.

The Super Kings only added one outright bowler to their ranks at the auction, signing promising youngster Harishankar Reddy.

Assessing CSK’s Overseas Players in 2021

In this section, you can find analysis for every Chennai Super Kings overseas player for the 2021 IPL season.

Faf du Plessis

At 36, du Plessis is no spring chicken. In fact, he recently announced his retirement from Test cricket. But as the experienced South African heads into his ninth IPL season with the Chennai franchise, it feels like he still has plenty to offer.

The veteran currently sits sixth on CSK’s all-time run-scoring leaderboard and finished the previous campaign as his side’s top scorer. After averaging 40.81 with a strike rate of 140.75 last season, Super Kings fans will be hoping for more of the same in 2021.

CSK’S LEADING RUN-SCORERS (2020 IPL SEASON)
Player Innings Runs High Score Average
Faf du Plessis 13 449 87* 140.75
Ambati Rayudu 11 359 71 127.30
Shane Watson 11 299 83* 121.05

Dwayne Bravo

There is no denying that Bravo is one of the best overseas players in IPL history. I mean, only three players have claimed more wickets than the iconic West Indian throughout the tournament’s history, with two Purple Caps coming his way over the years.

The all-rounder struggled with the bat last season and perhaps didn’t feature in as many games as he would have hoped. However, he undoubtedly makes the Chennai Super Kings 2021 IPL squad better.

Sam Curran

Not only did Curran prove to be CSK’s best bowler last year, but he also chipped in with a decent number of runs, too. Only du Plessis hit more sixes for the team last season, while the Englishman’s top score of 52 proved that he is a key performer for the Super Kings.

It is often easy to forget that Curran is still just 22. With his best years surely ahead of him, we could easily see the all-arounder take his game to an even higher level in 2021 – and become one of the Indian Player League’s standout players.

Mooen Ali

Bought in the 2021 IPL auction, Ali brings a wealth of know-how to the Super Kings squad. Due to his Test commitments for England, the 33-year-old has never really been able to make his mark on the Indian Premier League. But he now has a big opportunity to show what he can do in the T20 format.

Ali has taken countless wickets and produced plenty of big knocks throughout his career, making him one of the most high-profile auction buys this year. He will almost certainly play an important role for CSK this year.

Mitchel Santner

Santner is preparing to enter his third consecutive IPL season with the Chennai franchise, although he has only played six games for the Super Kings – four in 2019 and two in 2020.

There is no doubting the Kiwi’s ability with both bat and ball, but he is yet to endear himself to the CSK supporters. If he continues to shine for the Blackcaps in the coming months, he could find himself playing a more prominent role for the Super Kings in 2021.

MITCHELL SANTNER’S BOWLING STATS (2020 IPL SEASON)
Innings Overs Wickets Runs Average Economy
2 7 2 53 26.50 7.57

Lungi Ngidi

Like Santner, Ngidi is another player that has failed to shine for CSK over the past couple of campaigns. Still, there is no reason why the 24-year-old can’t make 2021 his breakthrough season in the Indian Premier League.

The South African paceman has consistently picked up wickets on the international stage in recent years, meaning that he could soon become one of the Super Kings’ star performers.

Imran Tahir

If Tahir can rediscover the kind of form that saw him win the 2019 Purple Cap, CSK’s bowling unit will be difficult to stop this year. The leg-spinner claimed 26 scalps to finish as the IPL’s leading wicket-taker a couple of seasons ago, before only featuring in three matches during the 2020 campaign.

Now 41, Tahir is one of the oldest players currently operating in the Indian Premier League. However, he is still capable of doing some serious damage with the ball.

LEADING WICKET-TAKERS (2019 IPL SEASON)
Player Innings Wickets
Imran Tahir 17 26
Kagiso Rabada 12 25
Deepak Chahar 17 22

Josh Hazlewood

Needless to say, CSK will be hoping that Hazlewood’s international commitments don’t interfere too much with the 2021 IPL season. The Aussie has established himself as one of the best Test bowlers on the planet of late, yet he only played three matches for the Super Kings last season.

If Hazlewood is able feature on a consistent basis for CSK in 2021, don’t be surprised to see him challenging for the Purple Cap this year.

Who Is Chennai Super Kings’ Best Player in 2021?

Having enjoyed a largely successful 2021 IPL auction, the Super Kings arguably boast one of the strongest Indian Premier League squads this year, at least on paper.

With standout new arrivals like Ali, Gowtham, and Pujara strengthening the Chennai franchise, Flemming could have trouble squeezing all of his best players into his starting XI during the upcoming campaign.

We all know what du Plessis brings to the team, while Dhoni needs no introduction. But the returning Suresh Raina could prove to be CSK’s best player in 2021.

The Super Kings clearly missed Raina last season, missing out on the playoffs for the very first time in 2020. However, if the 34-year-old hits the ground running in 2021, CSK will instantly be a better team this year.

Not only will Raina bring more runs to the team, but his athleticism in the field will also be a massive bonus.

The tag of the Super Kings’ best player in 2021 could go to a number of the franchise’s stars. But if Raina can pick up where he left off in 2019, he will almost certainly be CSK’s player to watch this year.

Likely Starting XI for Chennai Super Kings in 2021

Trying to predict the Super Kings’ likely starting XI in 2021 isn’t an easy task. The current CSK squad is stronger than it was last year, meaning that there are bound to be a number of high-profile names spending time on the sidelines during the upcoming campaign.

Nevertheless, here is the likely CSK XI for the 2021 IPL season.

  • Ruturaj Gaikwad
  • Faf du Plessis
  • Suresh Raina
  • Ambati Rayudu
  • MS Dhoni (c & wk)
  • Moeen Ali
  • Ravindra Jadeja
  • Sam Curran
  • Krishnappa Gowtham
  • Deepak Chahar
  • Josh Hazlewood

Ali and Gowtham are likely to come straight into Flemming’s best eleven, while Raina is expected to reassume the number three role.

As you can see, the Super Kings look set to bat deep in 2021. The CSK squad is now packed with big hitters, all the way down to Gowtham at number nine.

With a host of new additions, big-name stars such as Bravo, Tahir, and Ngidi may be starved of opportunities this year. That tells you everything you need to know about the Super Kings’ strength in depth.

Can the CSK Squad Win the IPL in 2021?

Only the Mumbai Indians have won more IPL titles than CSK. MI – the reigning champions – have five titles to their name, while the Super Kings have triumphed on three occasions – most recently in 2018.

The Mumbai franchise heads into the new campaign as the bookmakers’ favorite, but there is no reason why CSK’s new-look squad can’t challenge for the title this year.

With veterans such as Dhoni, Raina, du Plessis, and Jadeja leading the way, along with young stars like Curran and Gaikwad, the Super Kings’ 2021 roster boasts an ideal blend of experience and youth.

If Flemming can find his best XI early on in the campaign, Chennai Super Kings could prove to be seriously tough opponents this year.

If you’re planning to wager on the new Indian Premier League season, which is scheduled to commence in April, make sure you check out my early betting preview for the 2021 IPL season.

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