The Indian Premier League resumes on Sunday after a four-and-a-half-month hiatus due to the Covid-19 outbreak. It does so with a clash between the two most storied and successful franchises in its history. Dubai plays host to the contest between Chennai Super Kings and defending champions Mumbai Indians, teams that have won the title no fewer than eight times between them.
At the halfway mark of the league stage, CSK are second on the points table with 10 points with MI fourth with 8. We take a look at the probable team composition. (MI Playing XI)
Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis gave CSK fluent starts in the summer, but the South African – who will be just out of quarantine – is racing against time to recover from a groin injury. Du Plessis has an unbeaten 120 and 84 among his last five innings for the St. Lucia Kings in the recent Caribbean Premier League (CPL) before missing the final few matches and the CSK team management may not want to take a risk so early after the restart. Robin Uthappa could be an option at the top as he donned the role for his previous franchise Kolkata Knight Riders. But he has not played any competitive cricket for more than six months.
In that case, it won’t be a bad idea to push Moeen Ali to the opening slot for a left-right combination.
Middle order: Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina
Rayudu and Raina can wrest initiative in case of early wickets and also score at a fair clip. Both are very experienced but out of action since May. Though unlikely, Cheteshwar Pujara could be a left-field option at No. 3 to lend some solidity to the line-up against a potent bowling attack.
All-rounders: Ravindra Jadeja and Shardul Thakur
Jadeja has come leaps and bounds as a batsman and is a three-dimensional player in every sense of the world.
Thakur had a memorable Test series in England, and his two half-centuries at The Oval turned the match in India’s favour. He can be used as a pinch hitter if need be.
Wicketkeeper: M S Dhoni (captain) will look to hit a few big blows at the end, if required, and direct operations from behind the stumps in the field. He can play as a floater, his batting spot will depend on the match situation.
Bowlers: Deepak Chahar, Josh Hazlewood, Imran Tahir
Chahar and Hazlewood can be an effective new-ball pair and Tahir’s inclusion will provide CSK a leg-spinner, left-arm spinner and off-spinner in the line-up to cover all bases.
Notable omissions: Dwayne Bravo has a groin injury and has not bowled recently. Hazlewood is the better seam bowling option than Lungi Ngidi.