Chennai Super Kings leave for South Africa sans Dhoni

Gunning for the title that eluded them last year, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) left for Johannesburg this morning sans their skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to participate in the second edition of the Indian Premier League that kick starts in South Africa on April 18.

The Super Kings left for Johannesburg via Dubai at 9:45 this morning on the auspicious day of Lord Aiyappa’s birthday by an Emirates Airlines flight.

Apart from Dhoni, medium pacer Lakshmipathy Balaji and opening batsman Murali Vijay, who will return from New Zealand on Wednesday and some overseas players, including coach-cum-player Stephen Fleming, Mathew Hayden and George Bailey will join the squad later.

From Johannesburg, the Super Kings will travel to Durban on Thursday where they will set up their training camp.

Kasi Viswanathan, secretary of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association and Head of Operations of the Super Kings informed minutes before boarding the flight that the team is geared up to return with the trophy this time.

“We are ready for the big occasion. We want to come back with the trophy this time. We have set our preparations in place with the aim of making the semi-finals as a goal and then go full throttle in the final for the trophy that we missed by hair breath last time to Rajasthan Royals,” he said.

The Super Kings would be having a six-day training camp in Durban from April 10-15, which includes a few practice matches against local teams before leaving for Cape Town to play Mumbai Indians in the second match on the opening day of the high-profile Twenty20 tournament.

Vishwanathan also informed that along with Dhoni, star England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff and Kiwi Jacob Oram will be joining the team in Cape Town on April 15.

“Dhoni will be returning to India along with the team today from New Zealand. Of course, he requires some rest. He, along with Flintoff and others, will join the team in Cape Town on April 15.

“The Indians as well as overseas players have been involved in international matches for their respective countries and have the experience to straight away go for the matches,” he said.

Viswanathan noted that all the eight teams have made some changes in their squads this time around after first edition’s experience.

“No team could be taken for granted and there could even be high scoring matches as some of the venues have small grounds but the Super Kings will approach every match with caution. We have depth in our bench strength.”

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