There are so many successful elements in this side, one being the number of great Indian players in the side. Also, the opening combo has fired more often than not - Haydos just keeps biffing them, and Tiny Patel has been surprisingly successful. A middle order comprising Elder Hussey, Murali Vijay, six-lover Raina, the versatile Badri and MS himself, followed by super all-rounders Albie Morkel and Big Jake = recipe for huge T20 score.
This squad is even stronger this year, with homegrown Arun Karthik and C Ganapathy having improved in leaps and bounds, and the purchases of another couple of smashing all-rounders in Justin Kemp (back from ICL) and Thissara Perera. The bowling looks decent-ish with Tyagi and Balaji, but the real strength is the spin, represented by Shadab Jakati and Ravi Ashwin, both of whom incidentally bat as well. Raina too. Ntini and Muralitharan are there too, but I believe they're way past their prime, though Murali may get a few games to prove that idea wrong. Albie and Oram (who probably won't play) are vulnerable to anyone who wants to take the attack to them.
Their squad this year -
MS Dhoni (capt), Muttiah Muralitharan, Manpreet Gony, Shadab Jakati, Arun Karthik, Thissara Perera, L Balaji, Suresh Raina, Michael Hussey, Makhaya Ntini, Thilan Thushara, C Ganapathy, M Vijay, Sudeep Tyagi, R Ashwin, Justin Kemp, Hemang Badani, S Badrinath, Matthew Hayden, Albie Morkel, Jacob Oram, George Bailey, Parthiv Patel.
Pretty simple team structure, the core batsmen remain the same, with possible rotation systems for the all-rounder positions and spinners. The middle order isn't fixed, with Dhoni probably having plans for when he comes in early or late. He is the key batsman, as he is with Team India. My line-up would be -
Parthiv Patel (wk)
MS Dhoni (c)
Note that Albie and Kemp could easily be switched by Oram or Perera, and Balaji by Gony, and Ashwin by Jakati. That's why CSK's so great, they've got multiple options for the same spots.
My Official-sounding prediction for CSK this year - Finalists. They've got the firepower, they've got the captain. They have Napoleon Einstein. They've got Sivamani! They're cool.
Next up are the Delhi Daredevils. Until then, munch on some dosa.