IPL Countdown | Super Kings will bank on consistency and inspirational leadership to defend crown

IPL Countdown | Super Kings will bank on consistency and inspirational leadership to defend crown

Maestro: If Dhoni can conjure up another triumph, it will be sweet music for the fans in yellow.
| Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO: RAGU R

When Ravindra Jadeja hit the winning runs off the last ball of the final to help Chennai Super Kings (CSK) beat Gujarat Titans, and clinch its fifth title in Ahmedabad last year, there were wild celebrations but also a bit of trepidation in the air. There was a feeling that CSK’s talismanic captain, M.S. Dhoni, could well bid adieu to the game in style.

However, the 42-year-old made thousands of fans happy when he said that though it would have been easier to walk away on a high, he wanted to work hard and return for one more year. Dhoni, who played with a knee injury in 2023, underwent surgery immediately after the IPL to prepare for this year.

Ahead of its title defence campaign, Super Kings bolstered their strong line-up with some top picks like Daryl Mitchell, Rachin Ravindra, Mustafizur Rahman, and Shardul Thakur at the auction.

A few new recruits have already become vital following injuries to opener Devon Conway and death-over specialist Matheesha Pathirana. Without Pathirana, who will miss the initial set of matches, CSK lacks a tearaway fast bowler who can nail the toe-crushing yorkers and it may rely on Mustafizur’s variations at the back-end of the innings.

Will Rizvi get the nod?

For Conway, the outfit has a like-for-like replacement in Ravindra or the option to draft in the big-hitting Mitchell. It will be interesting to see whether the uncapped batter Sameer Rizvi, bought for ₹8.4 crore, can fill Ambati Rayudu’s shoes in the middle-order.

A key ingredient behind the team’s consistency is that the squad is built to maximise its home advantage at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, where spinners dominate. The franchise has perfected a method for racking up wins at its den and consistently reaching the playoffs, which is always the primary target.

But beyond all this, what makes CSK tick is how the management backs the players to the hilt to get the maximum out of them.

Come Friday, Dhoni will again start marshalling his troops like a conductor trying to deliver another stirring symphony in front of adoring fans, who will savour every moment of his presence on the field, regardless of whether it is his final bow or not.

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