The summer in India is synonymous to the Indian Premier League (IPL) as it has become a routine in almost all the households across the country. The mega soaps have usually given way to this T20 league for the past decade or so, but this summer was very different as there was no IPL because of the ongoing pandemic around the world.
The league’s status was unknown and many cricket fans were even resigned to the fact that IPL 2020 would not happen. But they were in for a very good surprise when the news broke out that the 13th edition would happen between September 19 and November 10.
Even though it's an Indian Premier League, over the years, the league has been moved out of the country for various reasons. The second edition in 2009 collided with the general elections and was moved to the Rainbow Nation, South Africa. The first part of the league in 2014 was played in the UAE due to the same reason.
Likewise, the 2020 edition has been moved out of the country and it will be played in Dubai, Sharjah and UAE because of the COVID-19 situation in India.
So who are the favourites to win this year’s IPL? Well, the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) surely would have to be one of them. The MS Dhoni-led side is the most consistent side in the league and that comes from the fact that they have never missed out on the top 4 that qualifies for the playoffs.
Let's look at the reasons as to why CSK are one of the title favourites in IPL 2020.
#1. Conditions will suit CSK
The playing conditions, which will be more or less like their home turf at Chepauk in Chennai, would definitely suit the 'yellow brigade'. As the tournament goes on, the wickets will get slower and lower, and that's where CSK have the right arsenal with both bat and ball.
Moreover, CSK’s captain MS Dhoni loves to play with lots of spin options at his disposal. He is one captain who likes to use a lot of spinners in this format and the conditions over there in the UAE might be ideal.
They have picked a side that not only has plenty of spin options but also batsmen who are good against them as well. The likes of Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu and the skipper MS Dhoni himself are all good players of spin bowling and that would come in handy on those pitches.
#2. CSK have experience in big matches
This has been a massive factor in CSK’s campaigns over the years in IPL. Back in 2018, when they picked the likes of Imran Tahir, Shane Watson and Harbhajan Singh in the player auctions, most of the cricket analysts and fans were mocking CSK as the Chennai Senior Kings because of their age.
But what showed in few months’ time is that due to their age, they had also gained loads of experience and that came handy during crunch moments. Shane Watson scored a magnificent hundred in the final to help them win the title for the third time and those people who mocked CSK were not laughing anymore.
#3. Smart picks in player auctions
The side is already loaded with spinners but the franchise sprung a great surprise in this year's player auctions when they went on to buy leg-spinner Piyush Chawla.
Piyush Chawla has been a terrific performer over the years and with 150 wickets, he is the 4th leading wicket taker in the league. So he brings in a lot of experience and also more spin options for MS Dhoni.
Another interesting buy is England's all-rounder Sam Curran, who is a genuine all-rounder of the mould that CSK like to have in their set-up. The Englishman joins the likes of Dwayne Bravo and Shane Watson in the list of all-rounders.
The Chennai Super Kings just about have all bases covered in terms of team composition.
#4. CSK have players with a point to prove
The side is packed with players who are eager to prove a point or two for various reasons, and that could work in CSK's favour. Left-hander Suresh Raina has said that he still has plenty left in him to play for the country, while Ambati Rayudu wants to show the world that dropping him for the 2019 World Cup was a big mistake.
Although MS Dhoni has achieved everything in his career so far, he still would want to sign off in some style and that could pump him up in this year's IPL.
All these players' motivation to do well could catalyst the entire team.
#5. CSK have a very strong bench
One of the main reasons for teams doing well in a league that spans almost two months is the quality in the bench and the back-ups. Almost all teams would have a very good first-choice XI, with an equal share of Indian and overseas players.
CSK have picked a squad over the years that has like-for-like back-ups for almost every player. This year's inclusion of players further emphasises that point. Veteran leg-spinner Piyush Chawla is a perfect back-up for spinners Harbhajan Singh and Ravindra Jadeja.
The CSK think tank went for Australia's fast bowler Josh Hazlewood, who could be the replacement for South Africa's Lungi Ngidi, who might be taking breaks for few games in between.
The Chennai Super Kings will roar one more time come the IPL, and it will be real challenge for other teams to stop the Men in Yellow.