Without much fanfare Chennai Super Kings skipper M.S. Dhoni kickstarted the final phase of the team’s practice session at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday.
The skipper arrived in the city on Friday evening and got down to business immediately, giving tips to medium-pacer Mohit Sharma before having a long chat with coach Stephen Fleming, who also had his first day in office.
Mohit is one of the two new players signed by the three-time IPL champion with the Haryana bowler having already been part of the club between 2013-15.
While a bunch of players had started practising at the team’s home ground from March 7, Saturday marked the second and crucial phase of the team’s preparation ahead of its first match against Royal Challengers Bangalore to be played on March 23.
Charismatic leader: Chennai Super Kings skipper M.S. Dhoni practices the big hits as Ambati Rayudu (left) and Suresh Raina watch keenly.
CSK, which won a record-equalling third title last year after making a comeback after two years in the wilderness, will hope to start its title defence on a winning note in front of home fans.
Bowling consultant Eric Simmons was seen guiding pacer Shardul Thakur while batsmen like Suresh Raina, M. Vijay, Ambati Rayudu and few others had extensive hits in the nets with batting coach Michael Hussey keeping a close watch.
While most of the Indian players have joined the camp, the foreign players are expected to arrive from Sunday onwards. The team will also have a warm-up match among themselves on Sunday from 6 to 9 p.m. like it did last year, and fans can watch the match free from the C, D and E stands (lower).
Earlier, the ticket sales for the first match on March 23 began at around 11.30 a.m and all the tickets were sold out by the end of the day. While the ₹1,300 tickets were sold out within a few hours, the rest of the ticket sales concluded by the evening.