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IPL staff in Chennai 02 April 2012 - 09:52pm IST

It will be a challenging season: Ashwin

CSK off-spinner weighs his team’s chances in IPL 2012

Chennai Super Kings begin the defence of their IPL crown on April 4 with the game against the Mumbai Indians. The mighty champions, who have thumped their authority on the tournament with two titles and a runners-up prize so far, lost their invincibility at home during the 2011 CLT20. The newly-laid track at the Chepauk proved to be their bane.

CSK’s star off-spinner R Ashwin, who joined the team’s practice session on Monday, said the extent to which CSK comes to terms with the new track, will decide their fate in the tournament.

On the new season of IPL

This season will be very interesting and there are a couple of reasons I say this. We have a few new additions in the team and this season we’ll play on the re-laid Chepauk track. Also, there is a lot of pressure on us to defend the title again. A lot of international cricket has been played over the recent past and that means we might have a few injury concerns as the tournament wears off. It’s going to be a challenging season for CSK.

On his plans to bowl on the new track

There are no strategies or plans that you form for a particular pitch. It’s just the amount of practice you [get] on it that makes you better. How quickly and well we manage to come to terms with this new track will decide our fate on the home ground.

On the Chennai track

Chepauk is not a turning track. If that was the case, it would have been difficult for every team to score runs on it, which hasn’t happened. The crucial factor that keeps the spinners interested on this wicket is the bounce. We have the likes of Bollinger, and Albie Morkel who thrive in these conditions. In the end, the batsmen have to find a way to get going. I always believe that in the longer format, the bowlers win the match for you, and in the shorter formats it’s the batsmen who win it for you. As I said, on this track, if a batsman can counter the bounce, he’ll score well.

On CSK’s bowling attack

We have a very strong bowling attack. Having a few part-timers here and there will not work. We have six genuine bowling options and that is the key. In Suresh Raina we have a fallback option for the bowlers who go for too many runs, which will happen in the Twenty20 format. It’s all about backing each other up.

On his spin partners, Jakati and Jadeja

The fact that [Shadab] Jakati has bowled really well in the past seasons cannot be overlooked. This time [Ravindra] Jadeja will lend the team more power with his lower-order batting and left-arm spin. I’ll definitely pass on to him whatever I know about the Chepauk track.

On CSK’s chances

There are nine teams in the tournament and each starts off with equal percentage of chances. It is a long tournament with 14 league games and it’s not possible to win each of them. The key is to peak at the right time, which we managed to do at the right time. We’ll have to continue the same.

On the Chennai fans

The fans here have always been a strong support and the atmosphere is amazing every time. I hope they continue to back us this season too through the ups and downs.

On CSK’s strong home record

In the last season, we banked heavily on the home advantage and were invincible at this ground. In the 2011 CLT20 it was a bit of a knock-up. With teams coming from abroad, we were pretty confident of winning it hands down, but we didn’t come to terms with the slowness in the wicket. That’s not how the Chepauk track usually is, and if the track behaves similar to how it was in season three by even 50 per cent, we’ll be a force to reckon with.

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