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Chennai Super Kings: Ensemble with fresh depth, but no compromise with core


The defending champions dropped a bombshell when they announced that MS Dhoni, their captain since the inaugural edition, had handed over the reins to Ravindra Jadeja. So the interest and intrigue around CSK would be two-fold — the role of Dhoni as a non-captain as well as how Jadeja accosts himself to his new designation.

The past

Few teams have mastered the art of winning games, irrespective of the strength and depth of their roster, injuries or unavailability of personnel, or even loss of form for a big player. Fewer still have a knack of bouncing back from the edge of the precipice. Not always have they possessed the most glittering of stars — often theirs was an ensemble cast comprising T20 oddballs at times — but have always managed to seize the moment, day and seasons. Four IPL titles, two Champions League crowns and a guaranteed spot in the knockout phase in all but one edition sums up their indomitability. Their captain in all the previous editions, Dhoni, has been larger than life and held together a stable team that has made a business of grabbing the vital moments of a game, fighting till the end and keeping themselves surreally cool under pressure. That no team has a better win percentage than CSK, who have won 60 per cent of their matches, goes without saying.

The present

The captain might have changed, but expect their ethos and approach to remain just the same. There would not be a reengineering of the fabled CSK-DNA. Expect them to uphold the same values of stability and tenacity throughout the campaign. Though their auction was recurrently shrewd and simple, they have added depth in most departments, without compromising on their core group of players. An extra spinner in Maheesh Theekshana, the mystery-spinner from Sri Lanka, boosts their spin bowling quotient while Adam Milne shores up the pace-bowling department. Their lone setback has been the injury to Deepak Chahar, though Milne and Chris Jordan could make his absence feel unfelt. New Zealand opener, the understated Devon Conway, could turn out to be a head-turner.

What’s next?

A lot of micro-attention would be on how Jadeja would go about his captaincy. He shares similar traits with Dhoni — far-sightedness, an analytical yet practical mind, a deep understanding of the game, ability to think on his feet and come up with instant solutions to problems. So expect the Dhoni to Jadeja transition to be smooth. This could also be the start of another phase in Jadeja’s career — that of Jadeja the leader.





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