MS Dhoni faces his biggest IPL task yet (Picture: Getty)MS Dhoni may be the most successful captain in the history of the Indian Premier League, but the legendary wicketkeeper-batsman goes into this year’s tournament with his place in the Indian team being seriously questioned for the first time.
Since his international debut in 2005, Dhoni has made over 500 appearances for India in all formats, with his performances in white-ball cricket in particular earning him legendary status.
Under Dhoni’s captaincy, India won the 50-over World Cup in 2011 and the World Twenty20 in 2007. Despite suggestions his powers are waning, the 37-year-old still averages more than 50 in ODIs.
But, for the first time, a significant section of Indian fans are questioning whether Dhoni still warrants his place in the team, with the youthful and explosive Rishabh Pant showing signs he is ready to succeed his mentor.
Chennai Super Kings – The low-down
Owner: Chennai Super Kings Cricket Ltd.
Venue: M. A. Chidambaram Stadium
Coach: Stephen Fleming
Captain: MS Dhoni
Full squad: MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis, M Vijay, Ravindra Jadeja, Sam Billings, Mitchell Santner, David Willey, Dwayne Bravo, Shane Watson, Lungi Ngidi, Imran Tahir, Kedar Jadhav, Ambati Rayudu, Harbhajan Singh, Deepak Chahar, KM Asif, Karn Sharma, Dhruv Shorey, N Jagadeesan, Shardul Thakur, Monu Kumar, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Mohit Sharma, Ruturaj Gaikwad
The current situation means there is added pressure on Dhoni to enjoy a productive IPL, even though new captain Virat Kohli has suggested the tournament will play no part in selection for this summer’s World Cup.
Dhoni led Chennai Super Kings to their third IPL title last year and the franchise have kept faith in that squad, opting only to sign two players at the auction in December. That could prove to be a mistake.
While CSK are a team beaming with talent – from Indian greats Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh to overseas stars Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson – the ageing squad was crying out for an injection of youth and dynamism.
While history shows it is unwise to write Dhoni and Chennai off, a fourth IPL title may prove a step too far for the most successful franchise in the history of the tournament.
CSK – IPL history
Post shoot swag! That Pack-up face! #WhistlePodu #Yellove 🦁💛 pic.twitter.com/GEAymBZGeK
— Chennai Super Kings (@ChennaiIPL) March 14, 2019
STAR PLAYER – MS Dhoni (India)
Dhoni is set to lead CSK through another IPL campaign (Picture: Getty)Dhoni was one of the most consistent batsmen at IPL 2018, finishing the tournament with over 400 runs from his 15 innings at an average of more than 75.
Despite producing a number of underwhelming displays for India recently, Dhoni will be expected to flourish in a tournament that has provided him with so much individual and collective success over the last decade.
SURPRISE PACKAGE – Sam Billings (England)
Kent and England star Sam Billings showed potential at IPL 2018 (Picture: Getty)After a poor showing last year – Billings scored just 108 runs in eight innings for champions CSK – the Kent man will be determined to show his undoubted ability during the upcoming campaign.
Having struggled to make an impact in his first 34 England appearances, Billings smashed an impressive 87 during the recent T20 series win over West Indies, form he will hope to take into the IPL.
Indian Premier League 2019 odds
Hyderabad Sunrisers: 9/2
Chennai Super Kings: 5/1
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 6/1
Mumbai Indians: 6/1
Kolkata Knight Riders: 6/1
Rajasthan Royals: 6/1
Delhi Capitals: 8/1
Kings XI Punjab: 10/1