Thursday 4 March 2010 

IPL Cricket: IPL 2010 Preview - Chennai Super Kings

IPL 2010 Preview - Chennai Super Kings
IPL 2010 Preview - Chennai Super Kings
 

Team Owner: India Cements

One of the leading cement manufacturing companies, India Cements Ltd. was established in 1946 and the company has since witnessed rapid growth in its stature. They are now the largest producers of cement in South India and has nearly 28% market share in that part of the country. Industrialist N Srinivasan is the vice-chairman and managing director of India Cements. He also has a keen interest in sports and his passion extends to golf and chess as well as cricket. He is the president of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association as well as the secretary of the BCCI.

He also placed a winning bid of USD 91 million for the Chennai franchise of the IPL in 2008. It was the third highest bid after more than 110 million dollars were paid for the Mumbai and Bangalore franchises.

Squad: MS Dhoni (captain & wicket-keeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Hemang Badani, Subramaniam Badrinath, George Bailey, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Chandrasekhar Ganapathy, Manpreet Singh Gony, Matthew Hayden, Michael Hussey, Shadab Jakati, Arun Kartik, Justin Kemp, Albie Morkel, Muttiah Muralidaran, Makhaya Ntini, Jacob Oram, Parthiv Patel, Thisara Parera, Suresh Raina, Thilan Thushara, SudeepTyagi, Murali Vijay

Coach: Stephen Fleming

The former New Zealand captain has an astute cricketing brain which, in his playing days while leading the Kiwis, was considered to be one of the best in the business. Graceful and determined, Stephen Fleming will go down as his country's most successful captain and one of their best batsmen after an international career that spanned 15 years. He owns a series of records, including the first New Zealander to pass 7000 Test runs, a landmark reached during his final series against England in 2008. During his last innings, in Napier, he did just enough to lift his career average over 40. Nine Test centuries is a poor return for such a talent, but Fleming was always more worth than his statistics revealed.

In the first season of the IPL, he was just another player in the side while in the second season he took over from Kepler Wessels but remained active as player-cum-coach. Later in 2009, he passed up on the opportunity to be New Zealand coach and now has also relinquished his playing duties to become full time coach of the Chennai Super Kings.

2009 Records: Semi-finalists
2008 Record: Runners-Up

One look at the joint record of the Super Kings in the two seasons and it seems that they have always been deemed favourites at the very start on both occasions. It can be attributed to the fact that they have Indian captain MS Dhoni leading them and he is known to be one of the more charismatic captains in world cricket today. They had a solid 2008 season, qualifying for the semi-finals with ease. In the first ever IPL final they lost out to the Shane Warne’s Rajasathan Royals, the team to beat that year. 

2009 was expected to be their year in many ways. They already had a strong squad and further bolstered it by brining England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff as the most expensive player in the IPL. That move however didn’t work for Flintoff couldn’t set the stage alight before he left for international duty mid-season. But one man who did perform for them was Mathew Hayden, ending up with 572 runs and the Orange Cap. Riding on his batting might, the Chennai Super Kings won five games in a row to end up second in the league with eight wins overall. But they lost out in the semis to Royal Challengers Bangalore. This will be one aspect that skipper Dhoni would really want to look at if he wants to be third time lucky.

Strengths & Weaknesses: Their strength mainly lies in the fact that none other than the Indian captain will be leading them. And if anyone has been watching him lead, it is no doubt that he is one of the best captains in the business today. The batting won’t be dependent on him alone and he can juggle his bowling resources carefully. They even have extra keepers in the squad to allow him to rest and not take undue pressure, for they realise the importance of a fit MS Dhoni, something that seems lost on the Indian think tank.

Beyond that, this is one squad where you really cannot find any weakness per say. The opening pair of Mathew Hayden and Parthiv Patel has worked for them in the last two seasons and lest there be any problem, Murali Vijay can always step in. The middle order too is in able hands with Dhoni, Suresh Raina and S Badrinath capable of handling any situation. Then they have the big hitters in Jacob Oram and Albie Morkel with a very interesting addition of Justin Kemp this season.

The bowling too is quite balanced. Return to Indian conditions will play into the hands of L Balaji and Murali while Thisara Parera will also be handy with his experience of playing in sub-continental conditions. All in all a squad which has ample cover for every position in the side and therefore a strong performance should be expected from this team once again.

Player to watch out for: Mathew Hayden

Whatever be their age, you can never discount the Australian players. A year after he retired, he was fresh enough to canter along 500-plus runs in the shortest and quite demanding format of the game in tough, wintry conditions in South Africa. Much will rest on his ageing shoulders once again. If he does fire, then Chennai will rush up the league tables once again. He is rich in experience and the best bat in the team now that Stephen Fleming is full time coach. Further more, Michael Hussey might spend most of his time playing in New Zealand, so again, much rests on his broad shoulders once again.

Remember this will be the last year of his initial three year contract with the Chennai Super Kings. That means there is a possibility that he might not put his name in the hat for auction next year. And therefore it might be last we see of this great Aussie batsman.

Chetan Narula
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