An attempt to tap into the mind of legendary Indian cricketer and CSK Captain MS Dhoni and how his Zen-like persona has led Chennai to sustained IPL success.
CSK have featured in the IPL for a total of 9 times now. They have made it to the Playoffs each time. Chennai have been part of 7 IPL Finals, out of which they have won 3. And there are no prizes for guessing that Dhoni remained at the helm every single time.
Someone aptly said on Twitter:
What is IPL? It’s a league where seven other teams play to beat CSK in the Finals!
Surprisingly, Dhoni has played a Final more than his franchise. Yes, MSD has been part of 8 IPL Finals, the additional appearance was for the Rising Pune SuperGiant last year.
Old is Gold
After the first day of this year’s IPL auctions, the average age of the CSK squad was 33 years. This made them the butt of all jokes. However, next day, they picked up the likes of Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur and Lungi Ngidi in a bid to maintain balance.
But it needed somebody like MSD to manage the squad. He not only introduced the youngsters cautiously to the cut-throat competition of the league but also had to manage the workload of the old warhorses. Players like Dwayne Bravo, Harbhajan Singh and Shane Watson needed extra care and boy did they get that.
Dhoni managed his assets beautifully. A fine example of this is after Watson slammed his first century of the season, Dhoni did not throw the ball towards him much as he knew that the workload could take a toll on the all rounder.
As it turned out, Watson repaid the faith of the Captain, slamming a match winning century in the Finals.
— Chennai Super Kings (@ChennaiIPL) May 27, 2018
Something about the team culture
Players came in and went all throughout this 9-year stint of Chennai Super Kings in the IPL. However, one man was a constant. He is none other than MS Dhoni. Dhoni has been so closely associated with the success of the Chennai Super Kings that he has almost become synonymous to the franchise.
Batting Coach Mike Hussey was all praise for Dhoni in one post match press conference. “Dhoni is such an important player for the team. He’s the captain for one, he’s a fantastic keeper, he’s been in unbelievable form with the bat. It’s probably the best I’ve seen him play for quite a few years.
“He is away from the game as well. We saw the packed house tonight, so many Dhoni fans out there. He’s the key man in our [CSK’s] whole organisation both on and off the field. What I like about him, apart from watching him play in the middle, is the character of the man off the field. He’s very calm and relaxed,” said the Aussie.
If you analyse, the two teams that qualified to the finals probably had the two best Captains leading them. While Kane Williamson led SRH in the absence of David Warner, Dhoni was at his best this season and took CSK to a victory.
And the legend lives on
When this year’s IPL was about to begin, many believed that MSD’s best days were behind him. Even several cricket analysts said that Dhoni is no longer the finisher he once used to be. They said age is taking its toll and Mahi’s reflexes are slowing down. But as the league went along, Thala turned the years back to show that he is still more than a capable batsman.
Dhoni has led the team’s campaign beautifully. When the IPL began, all 8 teams possessed talented individuals. It was always about putting your best foot forward, playing as a gelled unit and marshalling your troops better. The one who could do that would end up at the apex.
In hindsight, we can see for ourselves. The two top teams that clashed against each other in the finals were both led by world class Captains in Kane Williamson and MS Dhoni.
Dhoni has not only done wonders with the bat, he has shuffled with his bowlers quite ingeniously. Many-a-times he has taken CSK out of tough situations and this is what has helped to build up a terrific team culture.
All in all, it feels like a perfect script. CSK make a comeback to the IPL after two years and straightaway announced their arrival by winning the championship. If that was not enough, MSD had a resurgent season both as a batsman and as a Captain. What more can a CSK fan ask for?