Former Indian cricketer Aakash Chopra weighed on the replacements for Suresh Raina for the Chennai Super Kings on the eve of IPL 2020. Suresh Raina left the camp while the reasons for his departure remain debatable, ranging from a spat with the team management to sustaining a family tragedy. Nevertheless, Aakash Chopra has named five batsmen, who could take the veteran’s spot.
Aakash Chopra began with veteran swashbuckling batsman Yusuf Pathan, who has plied his trade for Rajasthan Royals, Sunrisers Hyderabad, and Kolkata Knight Riders. He highlighted that despite a credible T20 record, not one franchise opted for him after Sunrisers released him. Aakash stated that with Chennai boasting plenty of top-order batsmen, Yusuf could be a finisher alongside MS Dhoni.
“I am going to start with Yusuf Pathan. He has been with RR, KKR and SRH previously. He has done well in T20s but was not picked in the auction for this year’s IPL. He was released by Sunrisers Hyderabad but no one bought him.
“Yusuf Pathan could be your guy because you have got top-order batsmen in Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu and Murali Vijay. So you might need a finisher along with MS Dhoni, so Yusuf Pathan could be that guy for Chennai Super Kings,” Aakash Chopra told in his Youtube channel.
The 42-year-old named Manoj Tiwary as his second choice while admitting that the veteran has played a few substantial knocks despite not having a glamorous IPL career. Chopra recalled the 2017 season of IPL when he slammed 324 runs for Rising Pune Supergiants and is still making runs in the first-class cricket. He also reckoned that Tiwary could be a bowling option too.
“The second option is Manoj Tiwary. His IPL career has not been very glamorous but he has played quite a few important knocks. There was a season I think for RPS, where he was facing few deliveries but scoring critical runs. He is still making runs in first-class cricket. He has a different bowling action but he could be an option,” the 42-year-old asserted.
Aakash Chopra proceeded to pick Hanuma Viahri, who is a very handy batsman. The former Indian opener felt surprised when none of the franchises bid for him, especially how Vihari has established himself in India’s Test side, crafting a century at number six.
Aakash added that Vihari is a batsman, who plays spin well and every team would need that. With the middle-order batsman capable of chipping in with his off-spin with the ball, the Agra-born cricketer feels Hanuma Vihari is a sensible choice.
“Another player is Hanuma Vihari. I was surprised when he was not bought in this auction. Because if you think of him in the last 12-18 months, he has made his place in Test cricket including a century at No.6 and the way he has scored.
“CSK, in fact every team, needs a player who plays spin well and if you get a current player who plays spin well and will also bowl some overs of off-spin, then why not him. To be honest, Hanuma Vihari will be my choice,” the cricketer-turned-commentator pointed out.
Aakash Chopra’s final two choices in place of Suresh Raina:
Aakash Chopra went ahead with Dhruv Shorey as his penultimate choice, who also used to play for the three-time champions. The 42-year-old reminded that the youngster was part of their squad, but hardly got any opportunities to prove himself and admired his fielding.
While Chopra admitted that Dhruv Shorey’s first-class season was not a fruitful one this year, he believes that the Delhi cricketer has high potential.
“Another one is former CSK member Dhruv Shorey. He was a part of the team but hardly got a couple of opportunities. He had done well as a fielder and had taken an excellent diving catch. He is a good player and although his first-class season may not have been excellent this year, the player has potential,” Chopra remarked.
The former Indian opener named a highly surprising name for his last pick, which is Cheteshwar Pujara. Cheteshwar Pujara, an established Test batsman, has a strike rate of below 100 in T20s. However, Aakash Chopra reminded Pujara plays spin well. Nevertheless, he pointed out that the Saurashtra batsman’s fielding skills could go against him as MS Dhoni prefers players with all-round skills.
“Last but not the least, I am going with Cheteshwar Pujara. The thing in his favour is that he plays spin well. But the thing that goes against him is that he is not a very good fielder.
“Also he is a top-order batsman and not a finisher. I have my reservations if he will be CSK’s choice because MS Dhoni likes players who are good in at least two out of the three departments, so that may go against him,” he concluded.