Dhoni-led side is not bristling with youth, but experience being the hallmark it appears good enough for another shot at the title
Comebacks in sport bring out a side’s resolve. It also shows the belief the team has in its own ability and that of its skipper.
And Chennai Super Kings and M.S. Dhoni are the Kings of comebacks. You count them out at your own peril.
A lot of credit for Chennai Super Kings’ astonishing success and consistency in the IPL — the side has triumphed thrice, made the final on seven occasions and reached the playoff nine times — should go to the talismanic Dhoni.
Sense of equanimity
The skipper brings a sense of equanimity to the side, gets the team to retain focus even under intense pressure and calmly plots the downfall of the adversary.
Instinctive bowling changes, cutting down the angles in field placement, and deliberately leaving some spaces open to dare and then trap the batsmen are Dhoni’s traits as skipper.
In IPL-11, Dhoni, tweaking his batting style, was in blistering form with the willow, he was sharp behind the stumps, and had his finger on the pulse of the game as captain.
While there may be question marks over his advancing years, Dhoni, still fit, can surprise his critics. CSK has retained the core of the team that stunned the field after returning from a two-year ban last year.
The popular side in yellow has got plenty of meat and options in batting. Ambati Rayudu can drill the ball through the gaps, fire it over the ropes. Faf du Plessis, his temperament unflappable, is a man for the big occasion. Shane Watson, a powerful striker of the ball and a clever seamer, can swing matches.
The left-handed Suresh Raina can conjure typically brisk knocks in crunch situations.
CSK is not a youthful side but is an outfit of strong personalities who never say die. Last year, the team busted the myth about T20 cricket and IPL being for youngsters alone.
Winning T20 cricket is a lot about playing smart. And not many cricketers are cleverer than Dwayne Bravo, whether taking pace off the ball, subtly changing the angle and firing in those yorkers.
In Lungi Ngidi, CSK has a bowler who is quick, straight and moves the ball. Mohit Sharma has been roped in to bolster CSK’s stock of domestic pace bowlers.
And the side has capable spinners. There is the experienced and combative Harbhajan Singh. Kiwi Mitchell Santner is a left-arm spinning all-rounder, and leg-spinners Karn Sharma and Imran Tahir can turn games.
CSK is not a great fielding side and this will be an area of concern for Dhoni and coach Stephen Fleming.
Yet, given its all-round strength and depth, CSK appears good enough for another shot at the title.
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