Don’t think seniors will find it difficult to get back into groove: Balaji

The presence of many players who are deep into their 30s is a boon and not bane for Chennai Super Kings as they head into the 13th IPL after the long coronavirus-forced break, the team’s bowling coach L Balaji said on Wednesday.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, 39, is getting ready to lead the three-time winners in the upcoming edition of IPL, scheduled to be held in the UAE from September 19 to November 10.

Asked if the senior players would find it difficult to get back into the groove, Balaji responded in the negative.

“I don’t think it’s going to be that difficult, because all your life you have played this sport. So many years of understanding will come in handy to get back to your best,” Balaji told PTI.

“Experience will definitely be important. It has been proven in big tournaments like IPL.”

Besides the skipper, the franchise, among others, has in its ranks veterans such as Shane Watson and Dwayne Bravo.

Dhoni is someone who believes in following the process, in giving opportunity and exposure instead of changing and chopping, Balaji said.

“Dhoni is always a process backing leader. There is no short cut in his leadership, but he is someone who believes in opportunity and exposure rather than cutting and chopping,” Balaji told PTI.

Before leaving for the UAE, the franchise has planned a short camp here from August 16.

“Yes, if everything goes as per plan, August 16th we will start a camp. It will be only for Indian players,” he added.

CSK was the first IPL team to begin practice (on March 2) for the 2020 tournament, which was originally scheduled from March 29 but was called off due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Subsequently, the BCCI suspended the league indefinitely before it zeroed in on the UAE to hold the 13th edition of the lucrative event.

Balaji, a former India fast-medium bowler, said it is not easy to regain peak fitness in any sport straightaway after a break.

“It is not easy to hit the 100 per cent mark straightaway in any sport. As we progress with our skills and fitness every week, we will look to improve our strengths in phases.

“But the good thing is that we had a camp in March and it is going to be a continuation of where we left in that camp,” he added.

Balaji is expected to be in charge of the brief camp here which would see the Indian players in the team including Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Piyush Chawla.

Meanwhile, eight Tamil Nadu players selected to travel to the UAE as net bowlers underwent COVID-19 tests on Wednesday and will be seen in action during the forthcoming CSK camp, sources said.

Among those picked include Aswin Crist, J Kousik, M Mohammed, Aushik Srinivas, L Vignesh and Abhishek Tanwar.

The team is expected to leave for the UAE on August 21.