CHENNAI: Former India speedster and Chennai Super Kings bowling coach L Balaji is confident his team will do well in the IPL to be played in the UAE from September 19. His confidence stems from the fact that MS Dhoni's side has the right blend of experience and youth in its ranks.
CSK will have a short camp at MA Chidambaram Stadium from August 15 with the likes of Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla in attendance, with local players. The team is likely to fly out on August 21.
Balaji, who will be in charge of the camp, says ensuring safety is priority. "In these challenging times, safety of the players and everyone is of paramount importance. Skill-wise, we will do whatever is possible in the time we have. We have a balanced side with a mixture of experience and youth. Our team ticks all the boxes and all departments are covered by capable players. Our strength is bench strength."
Raina and Chawla have been training regularly, while Dhoni has had net sessions in Ranchi. "I have not seen them practise. Once they get here, we will work out how to go forward. Basically, it (camp) would be to assess each player's strength and areas to work on. In short, we would like to get into the T20 mindset,'' said Balaji.
With the new rule of not applying saliva on the ball in play, will the bowling coach's job become difficult? "The players are professionals. Without using saliva, they must look at every opportunity to get wickets. Once you start practising, I suppose they can train their minds not to use saliva,'' he felt.
Dhoni looked in good touch in March at a camp in Chennai before the lockdown. Balaji said the CSK skipper knows how to keep himself going. "He is a great player and very fit. No one can question his ability or fitness. All top players know how to keep themselves in shape and perform. But the task before Dhoni is to bring together the players who are coming after a long layoff, find the right combination and take the team forward,'' said Balaji.
How does the team plan to cope with the hot conditions in the UAE? "Start well, carry forward the momentum and have lots of self belief. As far as conditions and pitches go, we have to see how things are. The world has been at a standstill for a long time. We have to have a feel of the conditions before making a judgement,'' signed off Balaji.