A tweet about the league doing rounds roughly reads thus: “It is a tournament where eight teams battle it out to play Chennai Super Kings in the final.” It might have come from a staunch CSK fan but it's not far from reality.
Consider this: In the five previous seasons, CSK have reached the final four times and won twice. This time too MS Dhoni's men enter the contest as one of the contenders.
So what sets them apart? Besides the calming influence of Dhoni, the key feature is continuity. CSK haven't fiddled much with the team or support staff. Like Dhoni, Kiwi coach Stephen Fleming too enjoys solid backing from the owners.
However, persisting with the same unit and picking the right players has paid off. The Indian contingent has remained the same. Murali Vijay, R. Ashwin, Suresh Raina and S Badrinath have been in the team since 2008. They also paid more than $2 million to buy all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja at the 2012 auction.
Fleming said: “We rely a lot on Indian talent, we have a core of seven very good Indian players. And their confidence too is very high after the series win against Australia.
Ashwin, Jakati and Muralitharan have all played their part to drive home the advantage on the slow MA Chidambaram Stadium pitch. And the line-up of foreign players too is set with Mike Hussey, Dwayne Bravo and Ben Hilfenhaus available, though they will miss South Africa's Albie Morkel for two matches and Francois du Plessis for four weeks. The only blip perhaps is that they are slow-starters but the settled side will be confident of taking that in their stride.