Chennai Super Kings are all set to return to the Indian Premier League fold after a gap of two years and the franchise has ensured that they have retained their core set of players for the upcoming edition. MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja were the players that were retained by the team before the IPL auctions and West Indian Dwayne Bravo was brought on board via the Right To Match Card.

The biggest strength of the team lies in the balance that they have been able to bring on board. Players like Dhoni, Raina, Jadeja, Bravo, Harbhajan Singh, Faf du Plessis and Imran Tahir are vastly experienced and have been playing in the shortest format with great amounts of success. They did end up losing Ravichandran Ashwin to Kings XI Punjab, but they hired Harbhajan Singh, who was regularly seen in the Mumbai Indians outfit for the last ten seasons. Though the average age of the side exceeds thirty, one cannot discount the importance of experience in T20s and this might turn out to be the greatest advantage of the squad in pressure situations.

The biggest weakness of the side is undoubtedly the lack of experienced pace bowlers. The most experienced Indian fast bowler is Shardul Thakur, who has just played three ODIs and six T20I games for the country. All-rounders like Shane Watson and Bravo will have to pitch in regularly, but knowing CSK’s tactics, they will most likely rely more on the spinners on a slow wicket at the Chepauk.

Indian player to watch out for – Suresh Raina: One player who has always set the IPL on fire is Suresh Raina. He played for CSK right from the first season, only to captain Gujarat Lions when his former team was suspended. The left-hander is one of the most dangerous players in the league, with 4540 runs, scored at a strike-rate of 139.09, with 31 half centuries and one century in 161 games.

He is a consistent member at the top of the order and when in full flow, he can take the game away from the opponents. He staged a comeback to the Indian team in the T20I series against South Africa and since then, has scored his runs at a strike-rate of 144.36. He can chip in economical overs with the ball as well, all of which makes him a crucial member in the side.

Foreign player to watch out for – Dwayne Bravo: The West Indian is one of the biggest match-winners in any T20 team that he plays for. The all-rounder is a handy batsman, with a career strike-rate of 125.94 in 106 IPL games but it is as a bowler that he is at his best. With 122 wickets in as many matches and a strike-rate of 16.39, the player can always be banked upon to pick up the wickets, especially in the death overs when he unleashes his slower deliveries to bamboozle the batsmen. He is a lively fielder as well and is never really out of the game.

Players to watch out for – Deepak Chahar: Bought for 80 lakhs, Deepak Chahar is a very smart bargain buy for the CSK. With the ball, he has been instrumental in Rajasthan’s run to the finals in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and with a bowling average of 22.34 and an economy rate of 7.46, he could be one of the uncapped players to watch out for.

Shardul Thakur: The young seamer will be high in confidence after performing well in the Nidahas Trophy. The player loves to hit the pitch hard while swinging the ball away from the right-handed players. His variations have been his strongest point and Thakur would want to continue his impressive form in the league as well.

A questionable buy – Sam Billings: With MS Dhoni already in the side, Englishman Sam Billings is unlikely to get a game in the tournament. With du Plessis, Bravo, Shane Watson and Tahir being the four foreign players set to take the field in the first game, Billings’ inclusion in the team sends question marks flying.

Expected Playing XI – Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (capt and wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Harbhajan Singh, Shardul Thakur, Imran Tahir