IPL 2020: Focus on captain Dhoni as CSK gears up for Dubai sojourn

M.S. Dhoni will lead Chennai Super Kings in yet another quest for IPL glory, this time in the UAE. CSK will be based in Dubai and train for three weeks.

CSK skipper MS Dhoni will be back in action after a year.   -  R. RAGU

Hungry like the Wolf’ is a 1982 chartbuster from that popular band Duran Duran. Mahendra Singh Dhoni was just born a year earlier in 1981.

Yet, the visceral connection - raw, undiluted with rather brutal predatory instincts - connects the two. Call him what you want, but at 38, Dhoni remains the ‘ultimate finisher’ in the game.

Now, this ageless cricketer of speed, thrust and power will lead Chennai Super Kings - IPL’s most successful franchise - in yet another quest for glory, this time in the UAE. Indeed, there is no negative bone in either CSK or Dhoni. This is a “Dad’s army” that finds match-winner game after game. Has big hitters, all-rounders, dangerous floaters and as many as three leg-spinners.

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“We are likely to assemble in Chennai and will leave for UAE after August 20 like the other teams. We will be based in Dubai. We will have three weeks of practice ahead of the tournament on September 19,” said the side’s affable CEO K.S. Viswanathan.

Viswanathan has been having his conversations with Dhoni. “The boys will be rusty having played so little cricket. Dhoni would have been happy with another week’s practice but it cannot be helped,” the CSK CEO revealed.

And since eight teams will be training in three grounds - Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah - practice matches are ruled out. Despite all this, CSK plans to hit the ground running. Dhoni allows his men to express themselves, enjoy their cricket. He makes demands from his teammates without appearing to put them under pressure.

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And he makes his smart moves, now closing down an angle on the field, now ringing in an exceptional bowling change - here you can expect the unexpected - and now shuffling the batting order.

While he gets his cricketers into a relaxed frame of mind, Dhoni ensures their intensity levels never drop. Out of nowhere, this team can move in swiftly for the kill. No wonder, after its period of exile, CSK made a stunning triumphant return and then came within a whisker of the title last season.

The side has even more depth and options this year. Combative left-arm seamer and free-wheeling batsman, Sam Curran is a welcome addition.

His accuracy, pace, swing and cut prompted Richard Hadlee to name Josh Hazlewood as the finest contemporary paceman.

And Piyush Chawla, immensely successful in IPL, is a leg-spinner with variations and heart. Like its skipper, CSK has its own pace and rhythm with match-winner galore from Suresh Raina to Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson to Dwayne Bravo, Imran Tahir to Harbhajan Singh.

Then there is M.S. Dhoni. Still ‘Hungry like the Wolf.’

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