Chennai Super Kings have waged brave wars on the cricket pitch. Ahead of the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League, the two-time champions will have to overcome off-field controversies as well. Coach Stephen Fleming on Monday, highlighted this when he admitted that 'distractions off the cricket field have led to uncertainties'.
CSK are considered, once again, to be favourites to win the title. Under Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the team won the title in 2010 and 2011. Things in the run-up to IPL 2014 though have been rough with former team official Gurunath Meiyappan under the betting scanner and Dhoni being accused of "covering up" in his statements to the IPL probe panel.
"There's a lot going on, I won't lie," Fleming was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo. "There are a lot of distractions. I think we were all uncertain about how it was going to play out."
The team will play its first match on Friday (April 18) against Kings XI Punjab -- just two days after Supreme Court is going to reopen the IPL scam case. BCCI's lawyers, defending Dhoni among others, have requested for the transcripts of Dhoni's deposition before the probe panel. The Supreme Court had already shot down the plea last week. Dhoni has already been charged for "lying" by the petitioner's counsel. (Also read: Laundry service? Dhoni's 'wishy-washy' solution to clean IPL)
Fleming though is counting on the team environment to ease the pressure on Dhoni and the other players. "We were desperate to get back into the fold of the team and have another chance to find some finals and carry on the history of CSK," said the former Kiwi captain. "All we can do is try and be consistent again but yeah, it (controversy) is there, we acknowledge it." (Related read: Controversies are a part of cricket and my life, says Dhoni)
The magnitude of the scams and the corresponding controversy was such that late last month, CSK came on the verge of being barred from featuring in IPL 7. While Supreme Court chose not to take the drastic step of banning the franchise, Fleming says his team won't shy fromÂ discussing the matter.
"We'll touch on the controversies (in team talks), if we think it's an issue. But I think most players are pretty relieved to be back and playing together."
This year though, as in the previous editions, CSK would be looking at past performances to take inspiration from and bounce back hard.
"We've learnt a lot in the last six years. Now we're trying to build a side that is more powerful. The players we've picked have quality and experience, these guys have done it before," said Fleming.