Abu Dhabi: Distracted to an extent by off-field furores surrounding them, two-time former champions Chennai Super Kings would look to bring the focus back on their cricketing prowess when they take on a revamped Kings XI Punjab in their Indian Premier League opener on Friday. The Chennai outfit, the most dominant team in the past three seasons, is still reeling under the spot-fixing scandal, in which some of its top officials have been implicated besides a few players also being under the scanner. (Adjoining image for representational purpose only)
Coach Stephen Fleming has been candid enough to admit that off-field issues cannot be just brushed aside and are like a distraction for the team, which under normal circumstances comes across as a well-oiled machine on a mission. "There's a lot going on, I won't lie. There are a lot of distractions (leading up to the tournament). I think we were all uncertain about how it was going to play out," Fleming said in a subtle reference to the betting controversy which is now under a Supreme Court-monitored investigation.
This year, CSK would be without some of their most reliable stars, including Australian mainstay Michael Hussey and South African Albie Morkel, after losing them in the players' auction. But with replacements like New Zealand swashbuckler Brendon McCullum and South African Faf du Plessis, CSK look formidable nonetheless. (Challenging to adjust in UAE conditions, says Dhoni)