As the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League gets underway, we preview the teams in contention, analyse their past performances and look at the key players in the franchise. In this piece, we look at two-time winners Chennai Super Kings
Past performances: Without an iota of doubt, Chennai have been the most consistent, and thus the most impressive side in the event over the years. They have won the tournament twice in 2010 and 2011, but have made a significant impact in every single season. They were runners-up in 2008, going down to Rajasthan Royals in a thrilling finish. They faltered in the semi-final stage in 2009, and have been runners-up in the last two seasons, losing to KKR and MI respectively.
Suresh Raina: With Michael Hussey and Murali Vijay not being retained, there will be additional responsibility on Raina as far as batting is concerned. The southpaw has been CSK’s most consistent performer even since the league kicked off in 2008. He has played some sterling innings for the side to take them to improbable victories and, at other times, has chipped in with sizzling cameos to turn a game on its head. Raina has all the strokes in the book for the format and, at least in the IPL, he hasn’t been troubled by the short ball so far. Following an impressive World T20 performance, Raina will be keen to continue his big-hitting in the IPL as well. Opponents beware.
Dwayne Bravo: While most sides have bits and pieces players, who can contribute a little with bat and ball, CSK have a genuine all- rounder in Bravo, who can turn a match around with either the bat or the ball. In the World T20, he played two spectacular knocks for West Indies to lead them into the semi-finals. When Bravo hits the ball, he very rarely mistimes it, and most bowlers have experienced this feeling over the years. Speaking of his bowling, he has one of the best slower balls in the business, which has undone a lot of good batsmen. In the field as well, Bravo is mostly brilliant. Chennai are definitely poorer when don’t have Bravo in their midst.
Ravichandran Ashwin: It is the IPL that had opened the doors for Ashwin as far as international cricket is concerned. Back in 2008, he was pretty much an unknown commodity, but over the years has developed into a match-winner in most formats, especially when conditions suit him. In the World T20 in Bangladesh, Ashwin was at his best, claiming a number of wickets with his smart variations. He also did not allow the batsmen to go after him, ending up as India’s most impressive bowler. This is an art he has nearly perfected in the IPL, which is why he remains their number one spin option this year as well.
Other important players: Apart from skipper MS Dhoni, Chennai would have high hopes from Faf du Plesis, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum and Samuel Badree.
Men who matter off the field
Coach: Stephen Fleming
Bowling coach: Andy Bichel
Fielding coach: Steve Rixon
--By A Cricket Analyst