Hyderabad: Led by an inspirational captain MS Dhoni, Chennai Super Kings is one of the consistent teams in the Indian Premier League history. Having won three titles – joint most along with Mumbai Indians the Chennai team always looked class apart.
Apart from two seasons in 2016 and 2017, where they were banned from the league, CSK reached the playoffs in all the editions, stamping their authority on the domestic league. Leading the side from the first season, Dhoni was instrumental in their fortunes. The captain cool believed in sticking to core team and did not believe in chopping and changing the combination which was evident from the wayhe gave long rope to his players and trusting them to deliver.
Entering the tournament after a two-year suspension, there was much fanfare around the team last year. The ‘Whistle Podu’ team was the centre of talking point ahead of the tournament. But his side went about the business as usual and lifted their third title in 2018. Come March 23, they may once again be a strong contenders for the title.
Dhoni’s acumen is second to none. His ability to read game situations is immaculate. He is also known to get the best out of his players, irrespective of the conditions. Sticking with a player like veteran Shane Watson who turned the IPL 2018 final against Sunrisers Hyderabad on its head with a century is a master stroke. And buying a player like Hyderabad captain Ambati Rayudu from Mumbai Indians to strengthen their batting order did wonders too.
Rayudu, who was released by Mumbai Indians ahead of the auctions, had a point or two to prove to his previous owners. He made them regret what they missed. He amassed 602 runs in the league – playing crucial part in title triumph – and that performance eventually led him into the Indian side. With World Cup fast approaching, Rayudu would be hungrier than ever. A good show in the season will guarantee a place in the Indian team. Though Virat Kohli assured that Rayudu was his go to man at the No.4 position in the Indian side, the equations changed quickly after the Australian drubbing. Rayudu will be determined to come up with good scores in the tournament. Dhoni was in fine form last year amassing 455 runs at an average more than 75. The experience of Suresh Raina is always an added advantage. And the presence of South African captain Faf du Plessis provides good options at the top while Kedar Jadhav has become a fine finisher in the white ball cricket.
The Super Kings also added some firepower to their bowling attack after buying Mohit Sharma who lends solidarity. Deepak Chahar’s promising show in the previous year holds them in good stead while experienced Harbhajan Singh with lively Ravindra Jadeja and Mitchell Santner form a formidable spin combination.
On the whole, the Chennai franchise, with consistency as their main weapon, will once again enter the ring as strong title contenders.