Chennai Super Kings: Three Words Define Comeback Stories:

After a damaged season in IPL 2020 in the UAE, Chennai Super Kings went on to win the next season of Indian Premier League in the year of 2021.

Chennai Super Kings/ Twitter

“Come back strong, that’s what we are known for” was the reaction or message to the fans from Ms Dhoni, the captain of the Chennai Super Kings when they left for their home earlier than expected.

2020 was one of those years when all of their foes hunt them. First the Covid cases broke down in the camp, their premier member of the side, Suresh Raina pulled out of the season; they had most of the old tired legs in their sides which mostly cost them 10-12 runs in the field and the UAE hot humid conditions were exploring all the niggles of the players.

CSK team with winning trophy
                                                     Chennai Super Kings/Twitter

The Last thing they would hope for would be the off color of their skipper. The exact picture found out to be played when a tired Dhoni sat on his knees after being beaten by the Dubai weather; he was still trying to run hard between the wickets being failed to execute the balls which he used to hit miles out of the park 2-3years ago. The end seems to be so close. And the same picture seemed to be visualized on loop in every game.

A Season No IPL Fan Imagined:

“Too many holes in the ship and when you try to plug one, there is water flowing from another.”

During the last presentation, the Chennai captain did mention that they need to have a look at the squad but because it would be a mini-auction; they couldn’t have a huge pool to catch the best players. Still, they let Watson, Chawla, Jadhav and few some boys and picked up Moen Ali and Krishnappa Gowtham and more players. What they are looking in the new season was intent or the famous word spark which seemed to be missing from their side.

The biggest positive as a side they always try to do is keeping the same side and backing them so much; as if they know how to squeeze up the player to get the best off him. Just go back 7-8years ago and if you had looked at their team-sheet, they had Dwayne Smith, McCullum to open with either Du Plessis or Michael Hussey, Raina, Badrinath, Dhoni, Jadeja, Ashwin, Bravo to follow. In the back end, they had Ishwar Pandey, Mohit Sharma and if they felt the pitch is on the slower side, then they would pick Pawan Negi or Matt Henry or someone else but almost identical.

Fast forward to 8-years and they have 4-5 players still in the squad and out of the rest of 8-9 playing eleven players, 6-of them had retired or are not playing in those-season. Even a closer look will tell you, Dhoni never go with players whom he didn’t know. Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur and Tahir had those 2-years with him in RPS and guess what, in the next mega-auction Chennai got all of them.

Dream Comeback of Daddy’s Army:

They had one dream comeback in the 2018 season. Making a comeback after a 2-year break, with a team that received the tag of “Daddy’s Army”, being champion, we saw what just differs them from the other side. The inclusion of Rayudu seemed to be like a diamond step, we found Dhoni 2.0, from the first game to the last game, the love and support of the fans, one of the nuitrients for any side to do well was outstanding even when their home games were decided to be played in Pune. That emotional speech that Dhoni gave defined what the players had gone through in the last 2-years even being with other teams. But that was a different scenario.

There are so articles even I have written one that Chennai might have cost their future due to their success in the last 10-years. But, just look at the way they have turn the table in this year’s IPL. The same car with a few mechanical changes has been awarded the power of “Chennai Express” which was running like an auto few months ago.

When the BCCI published the schedule of the IPL-2021, there is hardly one person who kept them in the top four of the ladders specially when they had 5-games in Mumbai, 3 in Delhi, 4- Bangalore and rest in Kolkatta. With the batting lineup that couldn’t even go beyond 145-150, can never go for 200. But the tables turned. They smacked 180 itself from the first game although lost it very badly against Delhi.

A New Spark in Chennai:

Since then, they went to have 4-wins on a roll with the scores being posted flashed out as 191, 220, 173. In the last game in Delhi before the COVID forced the occasion cut short, they scored 219 against Mumbai; although a brilliant Pollard innings screwed all the wheels.

In the second leg, when the tournament moved to UAE, the past wounds seemed to get life again; and that break wasn’t going to help those who doesn’t play comperative cricket. Well, it didn’t matter. They went on to win 4-games on roll again and few players stood out impressively. First it was the partnership of Faf & Gaikwad, the little boy who was missing the spark.

“Maybe we didn’t see the kind of spark that they’re could’ve been given to us.” Was Dhoni’s comment following their 7-wicket lose against Royals. Well, the Lad from Maharashtra did literally convert the spark to Bonfire. The opening partnership between him and Faf making 50% of the run wasn’t only laying a good foundation but also allowing the others to take a bit time. From being last on the table of hitting sixes, they finished as the top side on the list. I can assure you if Ruturaj played for another franchise, he would not get selected; but the best thing for CSK is they give their players enough faith and run for a good number of games.

Showing Intent Changing Results:

Look at Robin Uthappa; even after being failed in the first 3-innings, the team went with him in the qualifier and was repaid the faith with a match winning knock replacing the experienced Suresh Raina.

The next greatest news for the franchise and also team India is the rising form of Ravindra Jadeja. The rockstar of the game is doing his job in all the three departments. There were two contrasting innings he played I can tell you. In the first game in the UAE leg when Chennai had lost 4-wickets in the powerplay, he came and made 33-ball 26 ensuring that wickets won’t fall easily but the flow of run would keep on going; and then in the game against Kolkatta, he came and smashed 22 of 8. In the game against Rajasthan, he appeared to be playing a video game; he sat on his knees during the bowler’s run-up and just smacked it for a six.

The whole season was awarded the icing on the cake when the skipper with 18 off 6-deliveries knock took him on the final. The finals night was in my view got the best difference of how an experienced side play. First, the knock of Faf of about 90-runs and the small rides of Uthappa and Mooen powered them to 190 and then when Kolkatta openers went everywhere in the powerplay, the whole momentum was spoiled by an 8-run 2-over by Bravo. The Kolkatta middle orders did help them.

Will We Witness Ms Dhoni in Yellow Again:

“It depends on BCCI with two new teams coming in, well it’s not about me playing for CSK, it’s about what is best for CSK”. Now the question every Chennai fan is waiting for whether their leader will be back in the next season. But the finishing sentence just felt a bit soft in the heart“Well, I still haven’t left behind.”

But whatever happens from now, the Chennai franchise has a very well-deserved proud history of 10- finals including 4-trophies and a solitary time in the playoffs. And the whole environment has been made around two names- Stephen Fleming & Ms Dhoni. And hopefully, the upcoming years will see both of them doing the job as coach, mentor or anything, if not Coach-Captain.

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