Hyderabad: In the history of Indian Premier League, only a handful of players have become synonymous, if not bigger, with their franchise. Former Indian captain MS Dhoni is the front runner in the list. The stardom and the following Chennai Super Kings has among the fans is directly proportionate to Dhoni and his stature.
All eyes will be on the Indian cricket great Dhoni this season as it could be his final outing. Having announced retirement from international cricket days before the last IPL season, everyone thought he would quit the cash rich league too after last edition. He said he would ‘definitely not’ quit. But with the age catching up with him, the legend looks for one final hurrah with the team to finish off his envious career on a high. There were many doubts about his waning big-hitting abilities in the last season. He managed just 200 runs in the entire league at a below par average of 25.
He failed to hit a single half century. Adding to that, for the first time, he faced heat for his team’s poor show. The team, who always made it to the playoffs, winning three titles, five runner- up finishes and record final appearances, avoided the wooden spoon in the last edition by a whisker to finish seventh. He also had to bear the brunt when he defended his choice to go with the old horses saying that the youngsters lacked ‘spark’. Chennai, with three titles, are the second most successful team after Mumbai who sit at the top with five trophies, including back-to-back titles.
However, no team is as consistent as CSK is. After all the controversy surrounding Suresh Raina’s departure from UAE days before start of the league, the southpaw was retained in the squad. But he lacks serious match practice in the run up to the tournament like his ‘elder brother’ Dhoni.
With youngsters Ruturaj Gaikwad and N Jagadeesan showing promise in domestic season and the brilliance shown by all rounder Ravindra Jadeja and England’s Sam Curran in the previous tournament, the team has enough fire power with Faf du Plessis at the top.
Veteran Robin Uthappa, who was roped in from Royals, could form an opening pair with Faf and the presence of Ambati Rayudu, the batting looks solid. It will be interesting to see whether Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara will get a match.
On the whole, Dhoni eyes a fairy-tale farewell to his IPL career if he chooses to say goodbye.
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