x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Indian Premier League: The Chennai Super Kings to hold court

Osman Samiuddin explains why the Twenty20 franchise are the IPL's most settled team.

MS Dhoni, right, and Suresh Raina will be going all out to regain the trophy they won in 2011. Saurabh Das / AP Photo
MS Dhoni, right, and Suresh Raina will be going all out to regain the trophy they won in 2011. Saurabh Das / AP Photo

It is difficult to think of a team more indelibly associated with the Indian Premier League than the Chennai Super Kings (CSK).

Sure, others have more romance about them, and others still far more glamour. But no team encapsulates the ominous, quietly growing domination of the league than the Super Kings.

The team is owned by India Cements and thus, N Srinivasan, the most powerful administrator in world cricket at the moment as head of the Board of Control for Cricket in India [BCCI].

The team is led by MS Dhoni, India's most successful and, on balance, most powerful captain (and vice-president at India Cements, too), as well as the biggest brand icon going.

And they have, in Suresh Raina and Ravichandran Ashwin, to name but two, some of the format's best players.

Little wonder that they have been the league's most successful side over five seasons.

Prospects

So honed are CSK at this Twenty20 schtick that even though they had, by their own standards, a relatively poor last season, they still finished as runners-up. But for two Manoj Tiwary boundaries in the very last over of the final, they may have picked up another title.

So they will still be in the running towards the latter stages of this season, as any team with their basic strength should be.

In the run-up this season, they have been busy building up their seam attack; they have inducted Dirk Nannes, Ben Laughlin and Jason Holder and signed on four local, uncapped pacemen (Imtiaz Ahmed, Ankit Rajpoot, Mohit Sharma and Ronit More).

Star foreign signing

Nannes will be a more than useful - and vastly experienced - addition. Chris Morris, a prototype 1990s South African all-rounder, is the small-name, big-money acquisition. But the real star could be Akila Dananjaya, another product of Sri Lanka's unorthodox spinners assembly line.

Dananjaya was whisked into the national squad after impressing Mahela Jayawardene in nets one day, and though he is categorised as an off-break bowler, that is a nominal interpretation. He can bowl a leg-break, carrom ball, doosra as well as the bog-standard off-break; at US$20,000 (Dh73,450), he could be the bargain of the season.

Star Indian player

Take your pick, from captain Dhoni, to much-derided all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, to Ashwin, to Subramaniam Badrinath.

But in a team as strong as this, Raina is the key in the middle order.

He may not be so good in longer formats of the game, or away from the subcontinent, but in India, in the IPL (that is not meant to sound so uncomplimentary), he is a finisher, blaster and pace-setter all at once.

He is also their leading run-scorer in the format.

Previous history

Two-time winners, finalists for the last three seasons in a row, runners-up in the very first season, they have never failed to make at least the semi-finals of the competition.

They have won the IPL off-shoot, the Champions League, as well.

They are easily the most accomplished team of the IPL.

 

osamiuddin@thenational.ae

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