Following the end of a two-year suspension from the Indian Premier League, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) are gearing up for the next season and are wasting no time in planning up to make a grand comeback to the tournament. The two-time IPL champions along with inaugural champions Rajasthan Royals were suspended for a couple of years in 2015 on corruption charges which ended on Thursday (July 13).
The owners, meanwhile, are keen to rope in their former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for the next season. The former India skipper had led the Chennai-led team since the inaugural season to 2015 before the franchise was suspended which led Dhoni to ply his trade for Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) for a couple of years. And even though Dhoni is looking like a pale shadow of his former self at the moment, the CSK owners are keen to have him back.
Dhoni had led the Super Kings to two back-to-back Indian Premier League titles in addition to leading them to four other IPL finals and two Champions League T20 title.
“If we are given an option of retaining a player, it will definitely be Dhoni. We haven’t yet discussed with Dhoni as his contract with Pune Supergiant ends later this year. However, we will speak to him in the future,” K George John, one of the directors of Chennai Super Kings Cricket Limited (CSKCL), the company that runs the team, told The Times of India.
In fact, the franchise is keen to assemble the core of the team that was its trademark in the first eight seasons of the tournament. Since the inaugural season, Dhoni had led the team while Stephen Fleming had been the head coach for the side since 2009, year after he was bought by the franchise as a player.
“For us, loyalty is very important. That’s been our strength over the years. Though we haven’t yet taken a final decision on the support staff, we are definitely thinking of retaining the old support staff,” he added.
John further revealed the franchise’s promotional plans, claiming that it would start from Friday (July 14) itself with two activities on the social media.
“It’s a new start. We don’t want to go back. Our passion is cricket and we will stick to it. On Friday, we will have two activities on social media to mark the team’s return. ‘Super Moments’ will revisit our title wins, Ashwin-Gayle saga and a few others. Then we will ask fans to send their Super Selfie with CSK stars and with the yellow jersey,” said John.
The two years absence, John said, did not have much impact on the popularity of the franchise not only among fans but also sponsors.
“In fact, we have got a lot of inquiries from various sponsors. We have had tremendous support from the sponsors and the fans have been phenomenal in supporting us,” he insisted
He added that they are planning to have a few interactive sessions during the upcoming TNPL with some of the former CSK stars such as Matthew Hayden, who will be in Chennai for commentary.
“We look up to this TNPL period for conducting some interaction sessions. For example, if Hayden is here then we can plan a CSK get-together. We are still figuring out other options,” he said.