2009 IPL: A LOOK BACK
Chennai Super Kings qualified to the Playoffs for the second straight season – the South Africa sojourn turning out to be memorable for the Lions in many ways.
A slow start was followed by a dominant phase in which the MS Dhoni-led side racked up five successive victories to gain a firm footing in the race for a top-four spot.
CSK pulled off a stunning 24-run win over Kings XI Punjab in their final league game after posting only 116/9, still the record for the lowest successfully defended total in the Indian Premier League.
The Lions finished second on the League table with 17 points from 14 games, behind toppers Delhi Daredevils (20 points). However, they lost to Royal Challengers Bangalore by six wickets in the semi-finals after posting 146/5 on being asked to bat first.
“We were 20 to 25 runs short on that wicket,” said left-arm spinner Shadab Jakati, recollecting the semi-final defeat in Johannesburg. “It was a bad day at office for us.
“But the positives that we took from the season were many – especially the realization that we had the makings of a champion side,” continued Goa’s Jakati, who made his IPL debut in 2009.
“All credit for that should go to the supportive management, an astute and inspiring captain in MS Dhoni and coach Stephen Fleming.”
Fleming took over as coach that year after turning out as a player in the opening season while Ravichandran Ashwin also made his IPL debut in season 2.
Runners-up in 2008, CSK managed only one win in the first five matches apart from sharing points from a rained out game against Kolkata Knight Riders.
“But we always knew that we needed just one good game to turn it around,” said Jakati.
Suresh Raina smashed 98 as the Lions thumped Rajasthan Royals that also set off their five-match winning streak. Jakati subsequently turned in four-wicket performances against Delhi Daredevils and Deccan Chargers as CSK shifted gears.
Dhoni and Matthew Hayden, who won the Orange Cap for the most runs in the season (572 from 12 matches, including five fifties), shared in a crucial 100-run stand in the win against Kings XI Punjab while Hayden and Subramaniam Badrinath put on a match-winning 89-run stand against Rajasthan Royals.
RCB, however, snapped CSK’s winning streak. The Lions bounced back to beat Mumbai Indians before losing to Kolkata Knight Riders in their penultimate league encounter.
About the final league match against Kings XI Punjab, Jakati, who sat out, said, “(Muttiah) Muralitharan and Ashwin bowled brilliantly and, in fact, it was overall a spectacular bowling effort by the team.”
The defeat in the semi-finals obviously rankled, but the side drew from the positives and looked ahead. “We had a superb side and we were bonding really well. And the way we were developing as a team, we knew it was only a matter of time before we’d win the trophy,” Jakati concluded.