IPL 2016: Will Dhoni face challenges leading RPS in IPL 9?

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MS Dhoni will be leading a new team in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the first time in nine years. He was one of the highest paid players, when Chennai Super Kings (CSK) acquired his services in 2008, following India’s win in the maiden T20 World Cup 2007. Dhoni was one of the hottest properties back then. His calm and composure was much appreciated by many around the world during the World Cup and it is a quality he maintains till date. A captain, who has won many accolades since then, is perhaps best suited to lead a new side.

In Dhoni’s new team Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS), he has played alongside numerous players from his time at CSK and while playing for India. He has excellent rapport with Ravichandran Ashwin, who has been in CSK since the beginning. He has been Dhoni’s go-to bowler when Dhoni needs a wicket.

Other than Ashwin, Dhoni has played alongside Faf du Plessis, Irfan Pathan, Ishwar Pandey and Thisara Perera as well. But the biggest advantage Dhoni has, in fact, that their coach will be Stephen Fleming, who helped CSK achieving their heights. The chemistry between Fleming and Dhoni has been good and it showed with the sort of performances the team put up on the field.

Adding to this, he has played with Ishant Sharma and RP Singh — two of his strike bowlers in RPS, who also played with him for numerous years in the national side.

The biggest challenge Dhoni perhaps faces is getting the combinations right. Other new team Gujarat Lions, too, perhaps face a similar challenge.

RPS have many foreign players at his disposal. Unfortunately, a team can play just four foreign players. With the likes of Kevin Pietersen, Steven Smith, Faf du Plessis in the team, it gives the captain and the management a big headache as to who to pick. It will perhaps be sorted after RPS play three to four matches, before they get their combinations right.

But will that be too late? What if Pune lose a few matches and they are out of contention to make it to the last 4? Dhoni’s CSK made it to the final in the first season, where they lost to Rajasthan Royals in the final. Dhoni has done it in the past and there is no reason he cannot do it once again. It took CSK three seasons to win their maiden title, but CSK eventually turned out to be one of the most successful franchises in the IPL — a feat he will be expected to repeat with RPS as well.

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