How do CSK fill the hole left by Suresh Raina in IPL 2020
Three-time Indian Premier League champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) were dealt a major blow last Saturday when batting mainstay Suresh Raina pulled out of the 2020 edition of the competition because of personal reasons, leaving them with a big hole to plug before the first ball was bowled.
The southpaw is the franchise’s leading run-getter in their history, with 5368 runs to his name in 193 matches and the MS Dhoni-led franchise will hope his absence does not have a big impact on their batting this season.
Who could take Raina’s spot?
His unavailability, however, does give someone else a chance to step up and be counted for them this season. There are a few options in the squad to pick from, but considering the importance of the position, the player who could be best suited for it would be Ambati Rayudu.
The right-hander has the experience of batting in that position in international cricket and enjoyed the most amount of success in that role during his career, scoring 687 runs in 16 matches at an average of 68.70 with two centuries to his name.
The advantage of having him at 3 is also that if CSK gets off to a good start and Rayudu walks in to bat with the opposition using the slower bowlers, then he can maintain a smooth tempo to the innings thanks to his ability to play spin bowling very well.
And if an early wicket falls, then he has shown his expertise in tackling the new ball very well in the past. As an opener, Rayudu scored 602 runs for the franchise in victorious 2018 season and handled the new ball exceedingly well.
But, with Faf du Plessis available and having played some key innings as an opener in the last few years, it could be tricky to take that role away from him and give it to Rayudu.
The need for Jadhav, Dhoni to step up
The absence of Raina also means that the middle-order, comprising of Kedar Jadhav, Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, will need to take up more responsibility with the bat. None of them has played cricket for a long time, but they have a lot of experience of playing in the IPL.
If the wickets in the UAE resemble the ones back home in Chennai, then they could use that experience and get the job done for their franchise.
What they would hope, however, is for the top order to give them a good start regularly. It would mean the trio could ease into the tournament and not find them in a pressure situation from the start. Numerous experts have had the odd giggle when speaking about CSK and the ageing group of players that they possess.
While that is a factor they have going against them, the odds are still very much in Chennais favor. For example, 22Bet in India offers odds 5.50 of CSK to win the IPL, only slightly different from former champions Mumbai Indians which are given odds 5.0 to win the IPL.
CSK have often had the last laugh and proven many a pundit wrong. Even without Raina this season, one can expect them to find a way out and deliver yet again.