Chennai Super Kings did not play the Indian Premier League in 2016 and 2017 because they were banned over the betting activities of one of their key officials. In 2018, the Super Kings reunited under MS Dhoni, who led his bunch of merry men, some of them past their prime in the international arena, to glory.
Chennai Super Kings’ team selection at the auction raised some eyebrows. Several players were on the wrong side of 30. Wasn’t T20 supposed to be a young man’s game? After 36-year-old Shane Watson slammed a 57-ball 117 not out, Chennai Super Kings’ 36-year-old captain MS Dhoni exclaimed: Age is just a number.
CSK were destined for greatness when they took the field under MS Dhoni in the summer of 2008. They had got the T20 metrics right. Dhoni, shrewd, calculative and not prone to wild moments of elation or despiar, knew what he had to do. He picked his men and most of them have stayed back – several returned after CSK served out their two-year ban and they all pitched in when CSK lifted the title for a record time at the Wankhede Stadium.
Despite the two year ban, Chennai Super Kings remain the most successful side in IPL history. MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Dwayne Bravo and Ravinder Jadeja have been the pillars of a remarkable journey. In nine seasons, CSK have won 60.81 per cent of their matches.
Mumbai Indians, the only other team to win 3 IPL titles, have won 57.31 per cent of all their matches. Like CSK, Mumbai have been able to retain their core. Rohit Sharma and the Pandya brothers along with Kieron Pollard and Lasith Malinga have highlighted some of MIs most iconic moments on the field.
Sunrisers Hyderabad, energetic, keen and extremely likeable, burst on to the scene in 2013 and three years later, they had their first IPL title under David Warner. They were without Warner in 2018 but Kane Williamson took charge and led from the front to the final where they ran into a red-hot Shane Watson. SRH have an impressive win record of 55.91 per cent.
Rajasthan Royals, the other team to be banned alongside CSK, have often punched above their weight and boast of a better win precentage than Kolkata Knight Riders, who have two IPL titles.
Chennai Super Kings are impossible to write off. They were immediate favourites last summer after the group came together. There were new players in the mix but the core exuded confidence and calm. MS Dhoni at the helm, Stephen Fleming as coach and Suresh Raina to marshall the middle order. All was well in the world as the yellow jerseys lit up cricket grounds around the country.
MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina are battle-hardened CSK men. They had parted ways to play for other teams diring the two-year ban but their collective magic works wonder for the Super Kings. The team feeds off them. MS Dhoni trusts Suresh Raina and Raina worships Dhoni. The two are a cricketing match made in heaven and the Super Kings were thrilled to see their heroes back in action.
MS Dhoni, who struggled with Rising Pune Supergiant, roared back to form and enjoyed his best IPL season since 2013. Suresh Raina did Suresh Raina things for CSK and went past 400 runs in a season for ninth time in 11 years. The rest of the group fired around their two pillars – Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh and Dwayne Bravo fired alongside as CSK completed a happy comeback.