The Chennai Super Kings started preparations for their Indian Premier League title defence at their home ground – the MA Chidambaram Stadium – a few days ago, with the atmosphere being nothing short of electric.

During its launch in 2008, one of the biggest concerns for the mega T20 tournament was whether or not fans will lap up to their home team over time. Well, as far as the Super Kings go, home support has developed into one of their biggest assets.

The Chennai faithful have been turning out in massive numbers at the Chepauk Stadium to watch the MS Dhoni-led team practice for IPL 2019. Looking at the footage shared by the franchise on its official social media handles, one can’t help but wonder if there’s an official match going on.

The highlight of the spectacle during CSK’s training sessions since the past few days has been the reception given to skipper Dhoni by the fans in the stadium. ‘Thala’, as the 37-year-old is fondly called by CSK supporters, has captained the team to three IPL titles.

Dhoni seemed to be in fine touch during the CSK nets, striking some trademark blows to enthrall the fans watching.

Another player who received a special welcome was, of course, Chinna Thala Suresh Raina. The southpaw may be out of favour with the Indian team but there’s little doubt that he’s been phenomenal for CSK over the years.

Chennai Super Kings host the Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore in the opening match of the upcoming IPL season on March 23.

CSK squad for IPL 2019

MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Deepak Chahar, KM Asif, Karn Sharma, Dhruv Shorey, Faf du Plessis, Murali Vijay, Ravindra Jadeja, Sam Billings, Mitchell Santner, David Willey, Dwayne Bravo, Shane Watson, Lungi Ngidi, Imran Tahir, Kedar Jadhav, Ambati Rayudu, Harbhajan Singh, N Jagadeesan, Shardul Thakur, Monu Kumar, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Mohit Sharma, Ruturaj Gaikwad.