KNOW YOUR LIONS
Mahendra Singh Dhoni pumping his fist after guiding Chennai Super Kings past Kings XI Punjab in a must-win league clash in Dharamsala and into the Playoffs in 2010 is a sight that remains etched in one’s memory from the opening decade of the Indian Premier League.
But what skipper Dhoni said at the post match press conference that night probably underlines the character developed by the team that saw them emerge as one of the most decorated franchises in the competition.
“It (winning the game) was an emotional moment. Your franchise pays so much money for you (that) you should at least make the semifinals. After that you can say it’s a lottery,” Dhoni stated.
“The kind of franchise we have got, the kind of team we have, we should have made it to the semifinals before this game. So, it was an emotional moment, at least for me,” the talisman added.
CSK went on to win their maiden IPL title that year and made it doubly memorable by also bagging their first Champions League T20. Impressively so, the Lions would make it to the Playoffs in all eight seasons that they featured in between 2008 and 2015, apart from winning the IPL twice and finishing runners-up on four occasions.
By retaining Dhoni, who led the side in all eight editions, Suresh Raina, who didn’t miss even a single game during the same period, and Ravindra Jadeja, and then using the Right to Match card at last week’s 2018 Player auction for Dwayne Bravo and Faf du Plessis, the think-tank pieced together the core of the team that served the side with distinction in the opening decade.
Former India skipper Dhoni holds an impressive 60.93% win as CSK captain in the IPL and with 2,987 runs is only second behind Raina (3,699) in the all time list of run-getters for the Lions. All-rounder Jadeja scored 670 runs and took 55 wickets for the Yellow Brigade between 2012 and 2015, not to forget the runs that he saved on the field.
South Africa batsman du Plessis scored 1,081 runs for the Chennai franchise between 2011 and 2015 while West Indian all-rounder Bravo, a two-time Purple Cap winner for most wickets, tallied 706 runs and accounted for 79 scalps during the same period.
“We have really valued experience. MS (Dhoni) and I are on the same wavelength that experience counts,” Head Coach Stephen Fleming said after the auction which saw the franchise return with a 25-member squad featuring a good mix of youth and experience, including the high profile Australian Shane Watson, Murali Vijay, Harbhajan Singh and Kedar Jadhav.
“We have a multi-skilled team in our ranks... that, to us, is very important as it gives us options throughout the course of the season,” added Fleming. “Around the world, the experienced players have always been consistent,” the Kiwi concluded.