Cricket / dhoni

IPL 2019 CSK: Do The Old Boys Need Some New Blood?
Winners of last year's tournament and comfortably the most balanced team in the competition were Chennai Super Kings (CSK). 36-year-old Captain MS Dhoni was ably supported by other experienced pros including Dwyane Bravo (34), Shane Watson (36), Imran Tahir (38), Harbhajan Singh (37) and Faf Du Plessis (33). They have retained all but 3 of the squad that brought home the championship in 2018 but a year on can this CSK side deliver another stellar performance or this a tournament too far? All-Round Options Probably the biggest plus for CSK last year was the plethora of genuine all-rounders that they had available to them. Dwayne Bravo, Shane Watson and Ravi Jadeja all played crucial roles with bat and ball. Watson himself was one of the surprise packages of the tournament as he rolled back the years to hit 555 runs in the tournament including 2 centuries (he was the only player to achieve this feat), 1 of which came in his Man of the Match winning performance against SRH in the final. He also smashed 35 sixes making him the 2nd highest 6 hitter in the tournament only behind Rishabh Pant. Watson who had trouble throughout his international career on the slower pitches of the sub-continent certainly turned things around in 2018 with success in both the IPL and Pakistan Super League. The one major concern that CSK may have with him and perhaps a few of their other veteran T20 specialists is that he hasn't played a professional game of T20 cricket since May. CSK will be hoping that he hits the ground running in the upcoming Big Bash League and then transfers that form into IPL 2019. With Mitchell Santer retained by CSK despite not playing a game in 2018 due to injury and David Willey who was a late addition to the side also keeping his place, CSKs all-round options look even more impressive than last year. The reality is that they will likely field a team with 7 bowling options for MS Dhoni to choose from without compromising on the strength of their batting. When I am trying to pick a favourite for a white ball tournament I always go for the team with the best bowling attack and that is looking likely to be CSK again. Alongside the all-rounders, they will be able to deploy the wrist-spin of Imran Tahir, the man with arguably the best wicket celebration in the game as well as Indian pace bowlers Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur. I am also looking forward to seeing how Lungi Ngidi goes in his 2nd season at the club. He has real pace and star potential and undoubtedly adds another option to the Smörgåsbord that Dhoni already has at his disposal. Captain Cool is Definitely "The Man" Even my 6-year-old son (5 at the time that the last IPL was played) is a fan of MS Dhoni. It's difficult not to like the guy while simultaneously being in awe of what he continues to achieve in the game. Fans in England didn't really get to see the best of Dhoni this summer when India came to tour and there were suggestions that he would retire after a couple of poor showings in the ODI series. However, it just goes to show how short people's memories are and also brings to mind the old saying that form is temporary and class is permanent. Dhoni was magnificent in the last IPL tournament both as a lower order batsman and as a captain. For me, the very best T20 players in the world are the ones who can get runs towards the back end of the innings when the field is spread and the pressure is on. Look at the leading run scorers in any T20 tournament and you'll quickly see that they are usually top order players who get both time at the crease and the added bonus of batting in the powerplay. Despite not having either of these advantages, Dhoni finished as the 13th highest run-getter in the contest with an average of 75! The only other middle/lower order player who could really claim to have matched Dhoni in the last IPL was fellow Indian keeper Dinesh Kartik. Probably the most magnificent part about watching Dhoni bat is how calm is at the crease. Despite the noise of 10's of thousands of supporters and regardless of what's happening on the pitch, he remains in the zone and in total control of the situation. As a Test captain, he was often criticised for not being active enough but in T20 cricket when the game is going along at 100mph anyway, having a calming influence at the helm is just what is needed. Beyond that, he has a fantastic tactical knowledge of the game and it is no surprise to me that despite some recent poor showings, India want to keep him in the side for the World Cup next year as Virat Kohli relies heavily upon him to help captain the One-Day side. Return of India's Bad Boy Another key to CSK's success and perhaps another surprise package in last year's tournament was Ambati Rayudu. It seems to have been a long time in coming but perhaps India will finally get to see the best of this very talented batsman. As a teenager, Rayudu scored big and important runs for India U-19s in world tournaments and followed that up with success on the domestic circuit. A bright future seemed to beckon, however, trouble with coaches, run-ins with umpires and then a stint in the unofficial Indian Cricket League saw Rayudu receive a ban from the Indian cricket authorities. While the IPL eventually lead to Rayudu being given a passage back into the big time, his returns in recent years have been pretty poor with a combined average of 24 over the 2016 & 2017 seasons and just 3 x 50s in the same period of time. However, last year that all changed as he became one of the most consistent run scorers in the league, mixing power with stylish stroke play to finish as CSK's highest run scorer and the 4th highest overall. . Such form also brought him back into the thinking of the Indian selectors who have been trying to find a man to bat at number 4 behind the heavyweight hitters of Sharma, Dhawan and Kohli. Since his return to the ODI side, Rayudu has averaged 50 and hit a century in his most recent outing against the West Indies suggesting that he has a great chance of getting a place in the starting 11 for next year's World Cup. More runs in this season's IPL would probably guarantee that is the case. . . Improvements for next year It's difficult to say specifically where CSK might need to improve their squad and having released only 3 players in the offseason they will not have much room or need for manoeuvre in the upcoming auction. It would certainly be nice to see the likes of Sam Billings and Lungi Ngidi play a more high profile role but with the limitations on foreign stars and the importance to the side in general of players like Watson, Bravo and Tahir, it is difficult to see where they will get a game. However, with an ageing squad, CSK may need to begin to plan a little longer term and as such perhaps look for young Indian players who are making waves in the domestic leagues. CV Varun is a mystery spinner who can turn the ball both ways and has been drawing plenty of attention as a result of his success in the Tamil Nadu Premier League. I've written before about the importance of having a bowler who can turn it both ways. CSK have Imran Tahir at present but the 38-year-old South African can't go on forever and with the variety of bowling options available to CSK, Varun could be eased into the side and games in general. Best Current XI Rayudu WatsonRaina Du Plessis Dhoni Bravo Jadhav Jadeja Thakur Chahar Tahir With Santner, Ngidi, Billings, Singh and Willey left on the bench CSK still have a very powerful looking squad with options to mix and match throughout the tournament.

Dhoni is fascinated in Afghanistan
Dhoni is fascinated by Afghanistan cricket Shejad-Rashid-Prophets fill the praises India's final and Afghanistan were sure to depart. So yesterday the match of the match was unimportant. But ultimately, the thrill of Abu Dhabi was spread in the cricket world. In the last over, one-and-a-day cricket saw one more rugged tie. India, however, thought it was "unimportant" to play. That's not unusual. It is normal to do this in the final confirmation. But they came to the ground and realized how the Afghanistan team was. With this team going a little bit, the defeat will happen, and suddenly the captain of the 200th match got the opportunity to understand that Mahendra Singh Dhoni With that understanding, how much Afghan cricket has progressed. Captain Coolie said, 'I think they have made a lot of progress in cricket after the match. They have really appreciated how they played since the start of the Asia Cup. Keep it, it's pretty. They're coming up fast. They are fascinating in all the batting-bowling-fielding departments. Suddenly, Dhoni has kept this match in mind for a long time. But he will not be able to win this match. But he did not lose the match because he survived the stomach and said, 'The match has been tipped to the end, it is not bad. We could lose the match. ' While praising Afghanistan, Dhoni, who is quite dissatisfied with his outburst, said, "I do not want to face much more than this, I do not want to face punishment." Dhoni made a personal 8 runs in the wrong decision of West Indian umpire Gregory Brett. On TV replays, it was clear that the ball went over the stumps. But then India has lost reviews. There is enough question about Dinesh Kartik's decision. After all, Dhoni has no objection to the Afghans deserve credit for this match.