How the old sanctuary and the new blossomed under the CSK umbrella

Bright yellow: Dhoni’s Super Kings have the final say in a thrilling summit clash against Hardik’s Titans on Monday. Photo: KR DEEPAK

“Football is a simple game: 22 men chase the ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win,” said English footballer Gary Lineker. Indian Premier League cricket and the Chennai Super Kings are very close.

Injuries, bad form, rotten luck… nothing seems to dent MS Dhoni & Co’s chances. And unlike the straightjacketed Germans of yesteryear in black and white, the men from Chennai do it with panache and more than a dash of bright yellow.

The five-wicket victory in the final against the Gujarat Titans at the Narendra Modi Stadium in the wee hours of Tuesday best reflects this.

After a poor bowling and fielding performance, CSK looked down and out as GT scored a record 214-run total. And with just 22 needed from 15 balls to chase down the rain-shortened 171-run target (15 overs), CSK saw Mohammed Shami and Mohit bowl 13 consecutive balls without a boundary.

However, ‘Rockstar’ Ravindra Jadeja hit Mohit Sharma for a six and a four in the last two balls to take home a fifth IPL title.

Unfamiliar territory

While the result was not a surprise, the season was not like anything else for CSK. It first had to shake off the painful memories of last year when it finished ninth; Jadeja had to be successfully included after the captaincy fiasco in 2022 and multiple injuries, along with its top players in Ben Stokes, Deepak Chahar and even Dhoni. And in a departure from the past, it lost three of its seven games at fortress Chepauk.

However, CSK made a way out, learning from tough lessons at home and making themselves a better side on the road. Under the mentorship of Dhoni and head coach Stephen Fleming – in place since 2009 – the old hands have found sanctuary while the new ones have blossomed.

If Jadeja comes back rejuvenated, Chahar makes Chahar feel important and given the confidence to play even at “80%”. Devon Conway and Ruturaj Gaikwad ramped up attacks at the top; Shivam Dube has been a reliable power-hitter; Tushar Deshpande, who played just seven IPL matches, played 16 in this edition and Matheesha Pathirana was literally plucked out of thin air.

Gives oxygen

The way CSK got back Ajinkya Rahane is a great example of top man management. When the game seemed to pass him by, the former India skipper played 14 matches, scoring 326 runs at a strike-rate of 172.49, including a crucial 13-ball 27 in the final.

“We’ve taken away the tag that he’s the guy you’re fighting against,” Fleming said. “That hung over his head a little bit. He wasn’t in our first thought, but the win against Mumbai was one of our decisive wins (by seven wkts) and he was the catalyst behind that (27- ball 61).From there, he was steadfast and positive.

The successful season also helped CSK identify a winning core. Ambati Rayudu, who in his last game for CSK played a neat cameo (19, 8b), will be sorely missed and the club will eventually have to prepare for Dhoni’s retirement. But with the title in the bag, CSK will look ahead with confidence.

“To win one year and then have your team lose is an emotional experience,” said Fleming, recalling the success of 2021 and the low point of 2022. “Last year we took a long time, just introducing the players the CSK way and they got used to the IPL.Emotionally we were a bit low. [But] this time we had energy all around.

“It’s very difficult to have a back-to-back [success]. What you can hope to do is maximize when you have a squad, because in a year’s time, everything might change. It’s something that got us there [of]and something Gujarat [Titans] already done.”

Dr Ahsan Khan

Dr Ahsan Khan is Content Writer for Sports section on He is very Passionate about sports tournament, Games Activity, Current Affairs etc. Contact: [email protected]

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