January 23 2019
Dhoni misses practice session
19 April 2018

CSK camp tight-lipped about the skipper’s fitness; Raina has a stint at the nets

They had been forced out of their bastion. And here were the exiled Chennai Super Kings, at a new ‘home,’ attempting to put the pieces together aain.

Despite the recent travails, the mood was light during the CSK practice session at the windy, open stadium on the outskirts of the city.

The popular side was without its King though. Missing from the session was CSK’s charismatic captain M.S. Dhoni, who had hurt his back during a thrill-a-minute 44-ball unbeaten 79 against Kings XI Punjab at Mohali.

It was a vintage Dhoni blitzkrieg but there was a price to pay. Back injuries can be troublesome. If Dhoni is to perform the dual role of ’keeping wickets and then launching into the bowling, his back should be able to withstand the load.

The CSK camp was tight-lipped about Dhoni’s fitness. Will the side risk him in the game against Rajasthan Royals here on Friday with a lot still left in this edition of the IPL?

There is a possibility that Dhoni might play only as a batsman, opening the door for N. Jagadeesan to don the big gloves. Or could Ambati Rayudu be given the job as a makeshift ’keeper?

The inspirational Dhoni is the nerve-centre of the side and CSK would be hoping that its skipper recovers quickly. And knowing his mental fortitude and astonishing comebacks from fitness concerns, you can never say never.

The welcome news was that Suresh Raina had a stint at the nets without any discomfort. The aggressive southpaw is a key player and CSK had initially said he would be out for two games because of a calf muscle strain; this meant Raina would only be available for the duel against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday.

But then, given the injury issues in the CSK batting line-up — Kedar Jadhav has been ruled out, Dhoni is racing against time and Faf du Plessis still has a fitness question mark — could Raina be fielded ahead of schedule against the Royals?

And the surface here could offer bounce and some movement — a strong breeze often blows across the stadium enabling swing — to the pacemen and CSK will need to rework its bowling strategy.

The focus could shift to pace from spin — the side’s strength — and it’s easy to see why moving away from Chepauk to a new ‘home’ will be so challenging. CSK needs its King in these times.



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