The third match of the Champions League features two teams who've been dominant in their respective domestic competitions, but are hoping to slay past demons. While Chennai Super Kings are recovering from the shock of having one of their top officials chargesheeted for illegal betting, South Africa's Titans are breaking in a new coach in Rob Walter and a green T20 captain in Henry Davids after a trying 2012-13 first-class season, which began with them as defending champions and ended with them going winless in 10 matches.
Super Kings will not have the comfort of the Chepauk crowd behind them, but they may well have traded up when they meet their opponents in Dhoni's hometown of Ranchi. His only top-level appearance at the JSCA ground, in an ODI against England, became a festival of sorts, and Dhoni would hope things haven't changed much when he leads his adopted team onto the field for their first match in the Champions League 2013.
The setting could prove useful for a side with the likes of Michael Hussey, last year's leading run-getter in the Indian Premier League and Ravindra Jadeja, the No. 1 ranked ODI bowler to reset itself. Jadeja will also find solace from the profitable return - 3 for 19 - he enjoyed on his last assignment in Ranchi. Though Faf du Plessis did not play at all in IPL 6 and Albie Morkel appeared in eight of the 18 matches Super Kings played, both could prove handy spies having played for Titans at domestic level.
Titans have their advantages as well, the foremost being the availability of AB de Villiers and Morne Morkel. The former, with his seamless amalgam of conventional and unconventional shot-making, already has experience dismantling Super Kings' bowling, which is their weaker discipline, while the latter will pose considerable threat to Super Kings' strategy of keeping wickets in hand and exploding late in the innings. Paired with Marchant de Lange, returning from rib injury, and CJ de Villiers, Titans boast one of the best seam attacks in the tournament.
Players to watch
Vital to Super Kings' batting strategy of keeping things steady without losing too many wickets early on is M Vijay. A lacklustre IPL season in 2013 continued in the international arena, leading to Rohit Sharma claiming his spot in the Indian limited-overs side. Back in yellow, Vijay will be hungry to re-establish himself in the minds of the national selectors.
Marchant de Lange has a history with stress fractures to his back. But on his day, de Lange can regularly clock 150kph and his performance both at the start and death of the innings is expected to be vital for Titans.