Chennai Super Kings turned Chepauk into a fortress in the first decade of the Indian Premier League. The much-decorated franchise’s home win record stands at an astonishing 66.67 % – six points over their impressive overall win percentage of 60.68.
Their enviable home domination includes an unbeaten run in 2011, a landmark season for ‘Captain Cool’ MS Dhoni and his men as they became the first team to win the IPL twice in succession and also the first to bag the title at home.
Dhoni-led CSK were also IPL finalists on four other occasions and semi-finalists in all eight seasons that they featured in to become one of the most successful sides in the League. Not to forget two Champions League Twenty20 trophies.
Lakshmi Narayanan was CSK’s performance analyst right from the beginning. It must be said here that in modern-day cricket an analyst, who is part of the support staff, plays a key role in a team’s success, especially in Twenty20 where real-time data often determines victory.
“I’d say home advantage didn’t count big in IPL like it would in a bilateral series, given that up to four overseas players can figure in the playing XI and you also got in the team players from other parts of the country,” said Lakshmi.
“It was MS’s astute captaincy, his ability to pick the right combinations and use those combinations to the hilt that turned CSK into a formidable opposition anywhere and more so at home,” added Lakshmi.
“It was from 2010 onwards that the aura of invincibility at home took full shape. You see, the team not only retained their core players but there also was minimal change in the overall combination of the XI through a season,” he continued.
“MS knew who to bowl when, has opened the bowing with (Ravichandran) Ashwin at home on several occasions, and has rarely, if ever, missed a trick anywhere. MS has the knack to pick right... be it in powerplay or in the death overs and the bowler would invariably deliver.”
CSK’s spectacular run in the IPL was carried by several stunning individual displays season on season, backed by Suresh Raina’s remarkable consistency with the willow – the southpaw scored over 400 runs every season – and Dhoni’s legendary finishing prowess.
“Raina was outstanding as he would set the pace or carry forward the momentum. MS, easily one of cricket’s greatest finishers, always had a finger on the pulse of the game,” Lakshmi concluded.