Super Kings out to add to success
Since lifting their first IPL trophy in 2010, Chennai Super Kings have proven time and again why they are among the most successful Twenty20 franchises, with two IPL titles and a Champions League (2010) title to boot. They nearly made it a hat-trick of IPL titles this year; they were upstaged in front of delirious home fans by Kolkata Knight Riders in a tense, high-scoring final. Their path to the final was a story in itself. A patchy league stage raised doubts of them making the playoffs, but with a mixture of incredible luck and self belief, they made it one step further.
Their batting in the league stages was inconsistent, despite possessing many hitters. It came down to a stage where they needed to win four out of four to make the playoffs. They won the first three - including crushing wins against Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils - but lost the fourth, against Kings XI Punjab. Their only hope was if the other results went their way and incredibly, they did. Super Kings sneaked into the playoffs as the fourth team, before overpowering Mumbai Indians and Daredevils to make it to the finals. For the second season in a row, adversity brought out the best in them.
Super Kings mastered South African conditions in their last visit in 2010, lifting the Champions League after upsetting the home side Warriors in a one-sided final. This time they will be without Dwayne Bravo - who pulled out due to a thigh strain - and the batsman S Anirudha. They are clubbed with Sydney Sixers, Lions, Yorkshire and Mumbai Indians.
How they qualified
Super Kings made a dramatic entry to the final of IPL 2012 but even their imposing score of 190 wasn't enough as Knight Riders closed out a nail-biter with two balls to spare.
Suresh Raina has played a whopping 91 matches for Super Kings since 2008 and has scored 2525 runs with 16 fifties. His presence has been as important as their captain MS Dhoni. He was also Super Kings' leading run-getter in IPL 2012 with 441 runs at a strike-rate of 135.69. While his position in the Test team has been questioned, there's no doubt that he's among the best T20 batsmen in the country.
Ben Hilfenhaus was a relative newcomer to the line-up after missing the whole of the 2011 season due to injury. He caused problems for batsmen with his pace and swing and in a match against Royals, he produced tight figures of 4-1-8-2. He ended the tournament with 14 wickets at an impressive economy rate of 6.85.
The team may be loaded with power-hitters and the best finishers in the game, but they still lack an out-and-out quick bowler capable of bouncing out batsmen in favourable pitches in South Africa. Doug Bollinger and Hilfenhaus are the quickest of the lot, but can be erratic. Nuwan Kulasekara and Albie Morkel bowl at similar pace and are effective in their own ways. Bravo's slower balls will be missed.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo