Champions Twenty20 League August 19, 2008

Dhoni likely to miss Champions League final

Mahendra Singh Dhoni might have to miss the Champions League final to turn out for India © Getty Images

Chennai Super Kings, the IPL team that has qualified for the Champions Twenty20 League in December, is likely to release captain MS Dhoni in the later stages of the tournament to help him prepare for India's Test series against England, a top franchise official has said.

The Champions League, jointly organised by the BCCI, Cricket Australia (CA) and Cricket South Africa (CSA), will be held from December 3-10, and will be sandwiched between the India-England ODI and Test series.

The first Test begins on December 11 and VB Chandrasekar, director of cricket operations for Super Kings, suggested Dhoni might make himself unavailable for the final to turn out for India. "More weightage should be given to Indian team," Chandrasekar told Cricinfo.

The Australian and South African players taking part in the Champions League - Matthew Hayden, Michael Hussey and Makhaya Ntini for Super Kings and Graeme Smith for Rajasthan Royal Challengers - will also be involved in international encounters till December 2, one day before the Twenty20 tournament starts. While Hayden and Hussey are expected to be part of the Australian Test squad in a Test series against New Zealand, Smith and Ntini are likely to be involved in a home series against Bangladesh.

Chandrasekar said the franchise expected the event to be held in Mohali, Delhi and Jaipur, the venues that were announced last month before the tournament organisers put that decision on hold to evaluate other offers.

Looking ahead to the team's chances and preparations for the Champions League, Chandrasekar said, "I would rate all teams equal. Any team can win a Twenty20 game on their day. We might hold a preparatory camp without the key players like Dhoni, Michael Hussey and Matthew Hayden."

He also said that it's highly unlikely that Super Kings will recruit new players for the tournament as most of the big players would be available to play.

Apart from Chennai Super Kings, the IPL runners-up, the inaugural Champions Twenty20 tournament comprises Rajasthan Royals, the IPL winner, Western Australia and Victoria, Australia's domestic twenty20 finalists, Nashua Titans and Dolphins, the South African finalists, Middlesex, England's champion, and Pakistan's Sialkot Stallions.

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo