All set to roar again

CSK bulwarks… captain M. S. Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Murali Vijay.-

Like Germany in world football, Chennai Super Kings (CSK), in the short five-year history of the Indian Premier League (IPL), has always found itself at the business end of the tournament. Twice champion, twice runner-up and once semi-finalist, CSK has an enviable record. A continuance of this streak is what the side will be aiming for in the sixth edition.

One of CSK’s biggest advantages is that the core group remains relatively unchanged. Led by ‘Captain Cool’ M. S. Dhoni, the side revolves around the likes of Suresh Raina, Michael Hussey, Albie Morkel, M. Vijay, S. Badrinath, Dwayne Bravo and R. Ashwin.

In IPL-5, Suresh Raina outscored his team-mates, aggregating 441 runs, while Dhoni (357) and M. Vijay (336) provided the adequate supporting acts. West Indies’ Dwayne Bravo was outstanding and had against his name 371 runs and 15 wickets. Australian Ben Hilfenhaus, after missing the 2011 edition due to an injury, picked up 14 wickets and was the team’s go-to bowler. In addition, South Africa’s Albie Morkel chipped in with hundred-odd runs and 13 wickets. This strong Indian thrust aided in substantive measure by international talent is a necessary if CSK is to continue its hegemony.

One of the problem areas for the team was the domestic pace bowling department. During the auctions, the team owners just concentrated on bolstering the attack with the purchases of foreign fast bowlers; the chief among them being Australian Dirk Nannes, a replacement for Doug Bollinger.

However, it has since signed five uncapped pacers to correct the anomaly. Uttar Pradesh’s Imtiaz Ahmed and Ankit Rajpoot and Haryana’s Mohit Sharma — all of whom have in excess of 30 wickets in the Ranji Trophy — were snapped up.

This, however, does not mean an end to its troubles. South African star Faf du Plessis will miss the first four weeks of action due to a back injury. He was the second highest run-scorer for CSK with 398 runs last season and he will be sorely missed this time.

On the positive side, R. Ashwin, who in spite of claiming 14 wickets last time was nowhere close to his menacing best, is back in form. So is the case with Ravindra Jadeja, bought for a whopping USD two million in 2012.

For the tinge of yellow — which the IPL Trophy has acquired over the years — not to thin, the Chennai outfit needs both the old and the new guard to fire in unison.

N. Sudarshan