CSK has many players in the side who are match-winners on their own.
Mumbai Indians has traditionally been a slow-starter in the IPL, but on paper it will be the favourite against Chennai Super Kings in the opening game here.
MI looks the most prepared and set team with a strong batting line-up in Rohit Sharma, Quinton de Kock, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Hardik and Krunal Pandya and Kieron Pollard. Trent Boult and Nathan Coulter-Nile complete the team’s quota of foreign players.
For CSK, the core has remained the same except for Suresh Raina (he was its worst performer last year) who has pulled out citing personal reasons this year. His replacement Ruturaj Gaikwad remains in quarantine having tested COVID-19 positive at least five times.
But CSK has Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo, who have all won matches for the side from hopeless situations. Mitchell Santner and Lungi Ngidi will complete its four foreign player line-up, in case Sam Curran and Josh Hazlewood are unavailable.
In case Curran is allowed to travel to Abu Dhabi, he could well be the pinch-hitter at the top of the order.
Meanwhile, CSK coach Stepehen Fleming said Dhoni’s sabbatical from the game has done him a world of good. Fleming asserted that the enigmatic skipper is “mentally engaged and determined” to encounter the challenges of a “tactically different” IPL.
Fleming stressed that his team’s experience of winning big matches will come in handy during the next 53 days.
When asked about Dhoni’s preparedness for the IPL, Fleming said, “It has been no different. He’s very fit and mentally, he’s been very engaged and determined.”
“In some ways the break can work for the experienced and older players that we have. MS is fresh and ready to go,” Fleming said in a pre-tournament interview to CSK’s official website.
“…experienced players identify key times and that’s why they’ve done so well in their careers. They can turn games, absorb pressure or just sum out the situation. That’s what experience is about and that’s why we value it so highly,” said Fleming.