The two most successful Indian Premier League franchises, i.e- Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians have followed different paths over the years to reach the same destination. While the former has believed in opting for trusted match-winners, the latter shows trust in the dynamics of youngsters.
CSK usually don’t chop their team too much and like to function with the same core. As a result, there have been many instances when a player failed to play for the franchise and spent an entire season on the bench. Besides this, the slow wicket of Chepauk doesn’t fit the game of many players.
Such players would have performed much better at MI, who always look to exploit the potential to the fullest. The Wankhede wicket is tailormade for T20Is, which every player would cherish. Therefore, let us take a look at 5 such CSK players, who could have done much better for MI:
1. Sam Billings
Sam Billings represented CSK for two seasons, 2018 and 2019. The English wicketkeeper-batsman played 10 games in 2018, scoring 108 runs. His most memorable knock came against Kolkata Knight Riders, where his 56 helped the team chase down a 200+ total. He was retained next year but surprisingly featured in only one game.
Throughout his stint with the team, Billings was made to bat down the order, a position where he never seemed comfortable. The 28-year-old couldn’t reach the double digits in six of the eight innings he played in IPL 2018. He could have done much better had he played for a franchise who could play him at No.4 or No.5.
MI was struggling with its combination in IPL 2018, as it didn’t have a strong batting order. Since Rohit Sharma played that season as number 4, Sam Billings could have been made to open for the team. The Wankhede wicket would have suited his game much better than the slow and turning tracks at Chennai.
2. Chris Morris
CSK signed South African Chris Morris for the IPL 2013. The all-rounder was at the top of his game with the ball and returned with 15 wickets in the tournament. However, his batting was too poor for the franchise to retain him. He could score a meager 14 runs in 16 games, his highest score being seven.
Morris has played on bouncy South African wickets since the beginning. The Wankhede deck is a paradise for any such player, who loves the ball to come onto the bat for power-hitting. He could have done a lot better for the MI, and been their lead all-rounder, alongside Kieron Pollard.
If not the Wankhede, Morris would certainly get to play at the small Chinnaswamy Stadium this year. He will have to be at top of his game if Royal Challengers Bangalore have to end their title drought this year.
3. George Bailey
Very few remember that Bailey was a part of the CSK for four seasons, from 2009 to 2012. He played 3 games in 2009 scoring 45 runs. Next season, he could feature only in a single game and was made to warm the bench for the entire next two seasons. Eventually, he was released the next year.
It’s safe to say that the stylish right-handed batsman from Australia wasted his four seasons with the team. In a batting order that was led by Micheal Hussey, S Badrinath, Suresh Raina, and MS Dhoni, he would have never found a place in the batting order. He would have loved to play for a franchise who could at least grant him a place in the playing XI.
MI had a relatively unsettled batting order during its initial years. Bailey would have been a perfect opening partner for Sachin Tendulkar at the top. He could instantly go for the kill, which would have benefitted the franchise.
4. Narayan Jagadeesan
Narayan Jagadeesan has been the part of CSK since the IPL 2018. However, the 24-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman is still waiting to make his debut in the biggest league. Despite his exploits in the Tamil Nadu Premier League and Tamil Nadu state team, he has failed to make a cut in the playing XI.
Jagadeesan opens for Dindigul Lions in TNPL, and bats in the lower-middle order for his state team. Not being able to find a place in the XI despite such flexibility and form is an injustice to his talent. MI could have provided him a reward of his potential by featuring him in their squad, as they always back young talents.
He might hope to get a few games in the playing XI for CSK this year, as he is the only backup wicketkeeper in the team. However, he would have certainly been able to prove his mettle in the world’s toughest league, had he played for MI.
5. Ruturaj Gaikwad
A Mumbaikar by birth, the 23-year-old Ruturaj Gaikwad has grown up playing in the red soil of the Wankhede Stadium. He has been a consistent performer for his state team and India-A for quite some time now. Unfortunately, he is yet to make his debut for Chennai Super Kings, a franchise that he joined last year.
CSK has always believed in trusted match-winners to deliver, a major reason for him not being able to make a cut into the playing XI. His fortunes don’t seem to be changing this year as well since Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson would be the frontline openers for the team. He could have cherished playing for MI more than CSK.
The team struggled with the middle order last year, and a player like him could have provided a solution for the same. Gaikwad averages above 30 in domestic T20s, with his strike rate being 135. He would have loved playing on his home ground in Mumbai and could have been a dependable option for them.
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