21.02.2019 Author: C.NAMASIVAYAMThe Indian Premier League is back. The BCCI has released the schedule for the first two weeks of IPL 2019 covering the first 17 matches of the tournament. The rest of the schedule will be released in due course once the election dates are announced.
M.S. Dhoni and Virat Kohli are up against each other in the first match of this year's IPL as defending champion CSK meet RCB in Chennai on 23rd March' 2019. For some of the fans, the IPL fever is so gripping that they don't want to wait too long for the Australian ODI series to get over to set the ball rolling for the annual mega event.
In IPL history, CSK has always been the team to beat. Led by Dhoni, CSK is the most popular and consistently successful team in IPL history. They are also the defending champions this time around.
As such CSK are a formidable team to beat any day. In IPL 2019 there are 5 additional factors which would make CSK more formidable this year compared to last year. Let us have a look at those additional factors which would make CSK the favorites to win this year's IPL title.
# 5 The return of Mohit SharmaThe only major change that CSK made in their squad in IPL auction 2019 is the selection of Mohit Sharma in place of Mark Wood. Mohit Sharma, the Indian fast bowler, had earlier played for CSK in 47 matches and had taken 57 wickets at an economy rate of 7.80.
He was more successful for CSK in his first two seasons in 2013 and 2014 taking 20 and 23 wickets respectively. His performances in the first 3 years of IPL had earned him a place in the Indian ODI and T20I teams.
After spending his last 3 seasons with Kings XI Punjab, Mohit Sharma is back where he belongs. Mohit is a useful first change bowler and an accurate death bowler. His clever change of pace and his camouflaged back of the hand deliveries should make him a difficult customer to handle in T20 cricket.
With the likely absence of Lungi Ngidi, CSK would be looking forward to Mohit Sharma to bowl at the death along with Bravo. He could become an asset to CSK in IPL 2019 with Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur as his partners.
#4 The fit-again Kedar JadhavCSK were dealt a severe blow in the opening match of IPL 2018 when their main Indian middle-order batsman Kedar Jadhav got injured and had to miss the entire season of IPL 2018. Before bowing out to injury, Kedar played his part in scoring the winnings runs for CSK batting on one leg.
The tremendous form of Captain M.S. Dhoni in the last season of IPL ensured that the absence of Kedar Jadhav in the middle-order was never felt. Jadhav is back now for this year's IPL season. He is in a reasonably good form with the bat for Team India and always a more than willing contributor with the ball. M.S. Dhoni knows how to optimize the utility of Jadhav, the all-rounder.
Kedar at No 5 for CSK could lend stability to the CSK middle-order. He is also an effective unorthodox finisher and could be a deadly combination in the company of Dhoni, Dwayne Bravo, and Ravindra Jadeja.
The presence of Kedar Jadhav in the CSK team for IPL 2019 would further strengthen the team.
#3 The presence of Mitchell SantnerIn the IPL auction 2018, the CSK think tank made a wise selection opting for the New Zealand all-rounder Mitchell Santner. He could have been the ideal spin-bowling all-rounder for CSK on Indian conditions to partner Ravindra Jadeja. But unfortunately for CSK and Santner, he had to miss the entire season of IPL 2018 as he had to undergo knee surgery just before the start of last year's IPL.
After an injury lay-off of 9 months, Santner has come back into the New Zealand team for the ODI series against India. With the presence of Santner in their team this year, CSK might contemplate accommodating four overseas all-rounders in the playing XI in the form of Shane Watson, Dwayne Bravo, David Willey, and Mitchell Santner. Even without David Willey and with Ravindra Jadeja in the playing XI, CSK would boast off 4 quality International all-rounders in the team. The presence of Santner in the playing XI would further deepen CSK's batting line up. He could also be a handy left-arm orthodox spinner on Indian wickets.
The presence of Mitchell Santner in this year's edition of IPL would certainly change the dynamics of Team CSK for the better.
#2 The Home ground advantageCSK will be playing their first match of IPL 2019 at their home ground at Chennai. In IPL 2018, after playing their first home match at Chennai, CSK had to shift their base to Pune, their adopted home due to external factors. But CSK still managed to win 5 out of 6 matches in Pune.
For a team like CSK, the home ground advantage really does not matter. A team with M.S. Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja in their ranks should always feel at home anywhere in the country. But the home ground advantage would be welcome when the tournament enters a crucial phase.
CSK have a win percentage of 74% playing at home. In IPL 2011, CSK swept all the 8 matches that they played at home. The last time CSK played a full season on home ground was in IPL 2015. In that season, CSK won 6 out of the 7 matches played at Chennai.
The CSK team and the CSK fans would be delighted to see IPL returning to Chepauk this year.
#1 Availability of core players for the entire seasonWith the fast approaching ICC World Cup, there is a lot of uncertainty over the participation of some of the overseas International players in this year's IPL. The players from Australia and South Africa are expected to play only in the first few matches of IPL.
In that regard, compared to the other teams, CSK is blessed with so many experienced cricketers who will play the entire season of IPL. The core of the team in the form of Suresh Raina, Shane Watson, Dwayne Bravo, Murali Vijay, Harbhajan Singh, Karn Sharma, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Mohit Sharma, David Willey, and Sam Billings are expected to play the entire season. Even Mitchell Santner is likely to play the entire season.
The participation of the South African players like Faf Du Plessis, Imran Tahir and Lungi Ngidi for the entire season is doubtful. The Indian internationals like M.S. Dhoni, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav and Ravindra Jadeja are expected to play in the majority of IPL matches.
The Indian fast bowlers who are part of the World Cup squad and the wrist-spin twins are only expected to be rested for a few IPL games. With Sam Billings in the squad, Dhoni might look to play purely as a batsman in order to reduce his workload behind the wicket ahead of the World Cup.
In contrast to the other IPL teams, CSK will be at their full strength in IPL 2019. With all factors favouring CSK in IPL 2019, they are yet again the favourites to retain the IPL trophy in 2019 for the second time in the IPL history. It will be a reiteration to keep quoting that CSK is the only team to retain the IPL trophy in the history of IPL.