Chennai: The Chennai Super Kings are giving final touches to their build-up towards the IPL.
Although a key member of the squad in Australian batsman Michael Hussey has opted out, Super Kings are confident that injured New Zealand all-rounder Jacob Oram will confirm his participation.
Chennai also have retired Australian batsman Matthew Hayden available for the full tournament and star England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff for the first few weeks, making last year's finalists quite upbeat about their chances.
Former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming, who played for Chennai last year but decided to take on the mantle of coaching the side as well, said the side's emphasis was on building its local talent and leadership skills, epitomised by captain MS Dhoni.
"I think we will be strong because we lead well," he said. "The two strong leaders in Warne and Dhoni last year came through. Leadership is still very important. Playing-wise, each team has a wealth of talent, and it's getting guys in form and getting the right combination."
"One of the biggest aspects is the local players - even local players now are of top quality, but they don't get talked about enough," he said. "The four overseas players do play a part, but the core of the side is made up with local Indian players, and that's where it stood out last year."
Leaving nothing to chance, the Chennai Super Kings will be flying out their full contingent of 27 players besides support staff to South Africa for the second edition of the IPL.
The squad is scheduled to leave for South Africa on Wednesday morning to provide the players a week's time to acclimatise and train for the IPL that was shifted out of India in view of the general elections besides security concerns.
The Super Kings signed up only three foreign players - Flintoff, Thushara and George Bailey - at this year's auction while retaining the rest of the squad.
The team also signed up promising opening batsman Murali Vijay who is likely to partner former Australian opener Matthew Hayden at the top of the order.
Local players (11): Napoleon Einstein, Suresh Kumar, Arun Karthik, Abhinav Mukund, Anirudha Srikkanth, Vidyut Sivaramakrishnan, Murali Vijay, Ramachandran Ashwin, Palani Amarnath, Subramaniam Badrinath and Lakshmipathy Balaji.
Outstation players (6): MS Dhoni (captain), Sudeep Tyagi, Parthiv Patel, Joginder Sharma, Suresh Raina and Manpreet Singh Gony.
Foreign players (10): George Bailey, Matthew Hayden (both Australia); Stephen Fleming (coach-cum-player, Jacob Oram (both New Zealand); Thilan Thushara, Muttiah Muralitharan (both Sri Lanka); Albie Morkel, Makhaya Ntini (South Africa) and Andrew Flintoff (England).
Officials: Greg King (trainer, South Africa), Tom Simsek (physio, Australia), Roney Parry (masseur, Australia) and Russel Radhakrishnan (manager).
(With inputs from IANS)