MS Dhoni (l) and Steven Smith (r) © IANS
MS Dhoni (l) and Steven Smith (r) © IANS

Having spent two years in wilderness, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) are back to where they belong – Indian Premier League. In their absence, Indian cricket fans had to find a space in their hearts for newer-franchises (Rising Pune Supergiant and Gujarat Lions), which was a stopgap arrangement.

The upcoming IPL auction is touted to be as one of the biggest ever with a plethora of players up for grabs. The auction alone is capable of bringing masses in front of television screens.

But with the return of CSK and RR, one will yet again witness legions of fans returning back to Twenty20 cricket. Recent trends suggested that people drifted away from the game due to over-saturation. CSK as a brand has the power to bring back people to stadiums and generate notice, most importantly revenue; BCCI loves the latter.

MS Dhoni’s association with ‘Brand Chennai’ has already created a stir and has fans craving for more. The yellow brigade has the power to unite millions together, irrespective of caste, religion and region, a need of the hour.

As far as RR is concerned, their relationship with Steven Smith is a fruitful one. Royals will look to cash in on Smith’s reputation as a modern great. His fan base, for good or brain-fade reasons is huge in India.

Ever since winning the inaugural IPL edition, RR has been keenly followed by fans and critics. They are known to hand out chances to players, who are small in stature but have the potential to make it big in international cricket; Smith, Ajinkya Rahane, Yusuf Pathan, Shane Watson, and Ravindra Jadeja are few of the notable players.

Both CSK and RR have their own set of ideologies to follow. CSK are known to be ‘Barcelona’ of T20 cricket, relying more on the superstars of the game. RR, on the other hand have gained reputation for being ‘Atletico Madrid’, employing the best of utility players.

CSK are already eyeing their third IPL title, while RR will look to claim a second championship run.

This won’t be any easy task known how they have start on a new slate. The scars of fixing scandals would require clinical precision to get rid off. Even though the players might not say, but will forever be under a microscope on and off the field.

Teams like Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Mumbai Indians (MI) have a loyal fan base already and remain unmovable. CSK and RR may have lured their core fans to but with their dark history of involvement in corrupt practices, it would be quite a task for them to regain the faith of the entire fraternity.

Star India bagged IPL media rights worth INR 16,370.50 crores (about USD 2.55 billion). Apart from a lot of money, pride, honour and reputation will be on the porch for all to scrutinise.

Nonetheless, the 11th season of nation’s most followed T20 league is already turning into a Goliath in the world of Davids.