The three-time defending champions CSK will open their campaign against Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore at Chepauk on March 23. @ Facebook/CSK

Chennai: Defending champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) will begin full-fledged preparations for the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the MA Chidambaram Stadium from March 16, a senior official of the franchise said.

Meanwhile, the domestic players in the CSK took part in a preparatory camp which began with a fitness session on Wednesday. The rest of the players, including those busy with national commitments would join the squad on March 16, the official said.

Legspinner Karn Sharma, Tamil Nadu’s wicket keeper-batsman N Jagadeesan, KM Asif and Chaitanya Bishnoi, among others, took part in Wednesday’s session. “Feels great to be in Chennai,” Karn Sharma was quoted as saying on the CSK website. (ALSO READ: Steve Smith turns coach for local club in Australia)

“Last year we only played one match, so very excited to be playing more matches here this time around. I’m really looking forward to it,” the leg-spinner, who turns out for Andhra in the domestic circuit, said.

He also thanked the CSK management and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for retaining him. “I would like to thank the CSK management and Mahi bhai (skipper MS Dhoni) for retaining me,” he said.

The three-time defending champions will open their campaign against Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) at Chepauk on March 23.

With the India-Australia ODI series set to end on March 13 and the Super League phase of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy set to conclude on March 14, the players would be begin arriving subsequently. (ALSO READ: IPL will have no bearing on World Cup selection, says Virat Kohli)

The CSK players would have a week to train before the IPL-12 opener. Several of the team’s players are busy with national and domestic commitments at present.

The Chennai franchise, which returned to the IPL fold in 2018 after serving a two-year suspension, won the tournament for a third time, beating Sunrisers Hyderabad in the final. (ALSO READ: Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav ‘strongest spin duo in world’, says Virat Kohli)

Sharma said it would be good have a preparatory camp as it helps the team gel better. “Given that we have players from different cities and countries, a preparatory camp helps the team gel better as a unit, allows players to know and understand each other better, each other’s styles better,” he added.

CSK was forced to move its base to Pune after protests over the Cauvery river water issue during the team’s first home against Kolkata Knight Riders.