'World Cup best build-up for IPL' - Fleming
The IPL closely following the World Cup has meant that the franchises' squads have not had much time to prepare as a unit, but Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming said that it also means the players can hit the ground running.
"With most of our players being in action during the World Cup, lack of match practice will not be an issue," he said. "Playing the best teams in the world and on our home grounds is the best build-up any player could hope for. We are quietly confident of our prospects. Our core team remains the same, so we look forward to another successful run [Chennai are the defending champions]."
Captain MS Dhoni also said he is pleased with the team composition, but a lot will depend on players' fitness, with key players like Doug Bollinger and Dwayne Bravo currently on the injured list. "The new team is very good. But I have always maintained it's not about how good the team looks on paper, but how we're doing on the field. If everyone is fit and all 24 players are available for selection, it's a very good side."
Chennai retained Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Albie Morkel and M Vijay from the first three seasons' squad and bought back Michael Hussey, Bollinger, R Ashwin and S Badrinath, among others, during January's auction. New players in the squad include Faf du Plessis, Bravo, Suraj Randiv, Ben Hilfenhaus, Scott Styris and Tim Southee, while the biggest loss remains Muttiah Muralitharan who will play for Kochi this season.
"We have Vijay to start off, and Badri, me, Raina, Albie, Du Plessis … Scott Styris is an allrounder. Michael Hussey [who is in Bangladesh with the Australia team] will also be joining us shortly," Dhoni said. "So I think we have quite a few players who can get runs when it matters. Murali is a great cricketer, a very good influence in the dressing room, with plenty of ideas. We'll definitely miss him. We'll also miss Balaji [who was bought by Kolkata Knight Riders in the auction]."
One player they bought at the auction who will not be available is Australian fast bowler Ben Hilfenhaus, who is out of the tournament with injury, according to the team's website. Tim Southee, who was added to the team after the auction, following his strong show in the World Cup, will take Hilfenhaus' spot in the side.
Chennai play Kolkata in the opening IPL match on April 8 at home.