Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming has sounded a warning to rival franchises regarding MS Dhoni, claiming that the senior pro is fully equipped to deal with the challenges of a "tactically different" Indian Premier League (IPL).
Dhoni has not taken part in a competitive game since India's Word Cup semi-final exit against New Zealand last year. He recently announced his retirement from international cricket, though he will continue to feature in the lucrative IPL.
Despite Dhoni's sabbatical from the game, Fleming expressed confidence in the former Indian captain's ability to combat any issues of rustiness ahead of the tournament opener against incumbent champions Mumbai Indians.
"In some ways, the break can work for the experienced and older players that we have. MS is fresh and ready to go," Fleming said in an interview to Chennai's official website.
CSK seem to have bunked the dominant trend of youngsters lining up teams in the shortest format by pinning their hopes on the experienced trio of Imran Tahir, Dwayne Bravo and Shane Watson.
"Experienced players identify key times and that's why they've done so well in their careers. They can turn games, absorb pressure or just sum out the situation. That's what experience is about and that's why we value it so highly," Fleming stressed.
Chennai's template of success has thus been drafted by veteran campaigners showing the way for some of the inexperienced candidates.
"That's why we've been able to get over the line in so many close games because the key player has been one with a lot of experience. And you also mix that with skill. You are conscious of having a skilful side and adding youth when we can and with that get the balance pretty right," Fleming added.
The decision to shift the IPL to the United Arab Emirates given the alarming coronavirus situation in India completely alters the dynamics of the competition as it rids the concept of home advantage.
Such a development will influence team selections accordingly as past IPL editions have seen franchises pick their core group of players based on the conditions at their home venue.
"I see this season is going to be very different tactically. With no real home ground advantage here, we've got to be very good at adapting to the conditions in each ground," Fleming said.
"We've got three different grounds to assess and each ground has its own character and nuances and we've just got to be good enough to pick the right team and get the right game plan to match that. It's like every game is an away game."
Fleming identified choosing the best combination of players amid a quick change of venues as the biggest challenge he will face in the upcoming tournament.
"It's one of the challenges of having to travel to Abu Dhabi, we've got to have to be very good on the day to have to assess the wicket and pick the right combination. One of the big challenges for IPL teams is to get the combinations right."