Abu Dhabi : Distracted to an extent by off-field furores surrounding them, two-time former champions Chennai Super Kings would look to bring the focus back on their cricketing prowess when they take on a revamped Kings XI Punjab in their IPL opener today.
The Chennai outfit, the most dominant team in the past three seasons, is still reeling under the spot-fixing scandal, in which some of its top officials have been implicated besides a few players also being under the scanner.
Coach Stephen Fleming has been candid enough to admit that off-field issues cannot be just brushed aside and are like a distraction for the team, which under normal circumstances comes across as a well-oiled machine on a mission.
“There’s a lot going on, I won’t lie. There are a lot of distractions (leading up to the tournament). I think we were all uncertain about how it was going to play out,” Fleming said in a subtle reference to the betting controversy which is now under a Supreme Court-monitored investigation.
But for the spot-fixing controversy which has rattled it, CSK led by India captain MS Dhoni can safely be called one of the most consistent teams in the IPL.This year, CSK would be without some of their most reliable stars, including Australian mainstay Michael Hussey and South African Albie Morkel, after losing them in the players’ auction.
But with replacements like New Zealand swashbuckler Brendan McCullum and South African Faf du Plessis, CSK look formidable nonetheless.On the bowling front, West Indian leg-spinner Samuel Badree could prove to be an important player given that his confidence is sky-high after finishing the third highest wicket-taker in the recent World T20.
Up against them are the Kings from Punjab. The franchise, which until the last season seemed lost in the celebrity event, have managed to instill balance and sheen to the side by making some smart purchases in the players’ auction. PTI