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IPL Staff in Mumbai 15 April 2014 - 11:29am IST

Reaching semis is our first goal: Dhoni

CSK captain says adapting to conditions is key

Former Indian Premier League champions, Chennai Super Kings, are set to stake a claim at the coveted Twenty20 title in the seventh edition of the tournament. Led by MS Dhoni, they will be playing their first match on Friday, April 18, in Abu Dhabi.

At the announcement of a new three-year sponsorship deal with IT services and solutions company, UST Global, the captain interacted with the media ahead of the tournament. Speaking about his team’s campaign, Dhoni said, “There are players who are coming from the Asia Cup in Dhaka, some even New Zealand. The challenge is the ability to adapt and perform quickly.”

Elaborating on these challenges, the CSK skipper said, “Yes, the weather is slightly different when you compare to Mumbai or Chennai or Kolkata. It is hot and humid. But Delhi has very dry heat and this place is similar to that. It will be a challenge. But sports people crib a lot initially. But you don’t get bothered by it once we start to play.”

All the teams have incorporated new personnel in their ranks ahead of the seventh season. Armed with a combination of new faces, and some who have represented the franchise consistently over the years, the Super Kings will be raring to have another go at the trophy.

Speaking about their campaign, Dhoni mentioned, “Consistency at playing well and reaching the semi-finals is our goal firstly. We can’t say we will win because all it takes is one individual to have a good day. The importance is to reach the semi-finals, and you up your game a bit.”
“In knockout stages, you play to the best of your potential. That becomes crucial.”

The CSK squad has some of the best T20 players in world, like Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin, New Zealand skipper Brendan McCullum, South African batsman Francois ‘Faf’ du Plessis and West Indian opener Dwayne Bravo. Asked whether his current squad is one of the strongest he has seen in CSK history, Dhoni replied, “What you have to see are your fitness issues. And your composition as a side depends on the fitness of the players and their form. You may have to omit someone who is a big player because with him included, the side doesn’t look balanced as compared to somebody else who isn’t as big a player. You have to see all those things.”

“The good thing is, we haven’t had so many changed players since season one. We try to retain as many as possible. And as a team, we lay down what each one’s roles and responsibilities are. And we try to learn as we are making mistakes; we want to keep that low.”

With some of the best in the game being part of the side, managing strong personalities from various cricketing countries also becomes a challenging task for a captain of an IPL side. Dhoni, who is known to be one of the coolest captains in the game, said, "So far, we have been blessed. We have a few players, and most are likeminded people, but yes, it is difficult managing a couple of them.”

“But we want to create an environment that provides a good mental condition to perform. And that will only happen if the players in the dressing room are good with each other,” he added.

The CSK coach Stephen Fleming also expressed his delight to be with the franchise, and said, “One thing I can say is, when the group gets together, it is very easy to do the job at hand.”

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