There may be a debate for the best team in the history of the Indian Premier League. But there is none for the most consistent team in the league. It is the MS Dhoni-led CSK. The Men in yellow’s consistency is one of the best in all T20 leagues.
Having played ten seasons, Chennai Super Kings has qualified for the playoffs every single time. They have been a part of a staggering eight IPL finals. It is an astonishing feat because T20 is such an unpredictable game. One good knock from an opposition batsman or one good spell from an opposition bowler could outdo all the good work of the season.
Sometimes a team requires that moment of brilliance to come out triumph in big finals. For Chennai, it was their captain MS Dhoni who produced those moments to win them three IPL titles. Let’s look back at those moments, which helped them lift the title in three years.
1. IPL 2010 – Astute field placements
Everyone remembers the final for Dhoni’s plan to dismiss Kieron Pollard in the penultimate over. It was unusual to have both mid-off and long-off. Fielders were in Pollard’s hitting zone and as a result, Mathew Hayden plucked from the air to seal the game for Super Kings.
But many have forgotten two more moments of brilliance from Dhoni. The first one came in the 11th over. Sachin Tendulkar and Abhishek Nayar were building a good foundation for the big-hitters to capitalize on. Dhoni produced a run-out from nowhere to break the partnership.
Dhoni’s game awareness was evident when he planned to dismiss the season’s U-23 success, Saurabh Tiwary. The southpaw’s primary scoring area was deep mid-wicket. He kept his best fielder Suresh Raina at that position. The youngster mistimed a pull, and Raina took a stunning catch to tilt the balance in Chennai’s favor.
2. IPL 2011 – CSK decision to opening the bowling with Ashwin
Chennai took on Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2011 final. RCB had won seven of the nine games chasing with Chris Gayle winning most of them. Many suggested CSK to chase to counter the Gayle effect. But captain Dhoni had other ideas.
He chose to bat first after winning the toss. On the backdrop of a magnificent 159-run opening stand, Chennai put up 205 on board. To counter Gayle, the skipper gave the new ball to Ravichandran Ashwin. Out of the seven games at Chennai, the off-spinner had opened the bowling only once in the season.
Ashwin bowled slower through the air inducing massive spin to beat his bat. He then bowled a quick arm-ball. Gayle was late on to it and gave a slight edge to the hands of Dhoni. Not only did it gave the catch but also the IPL cup.
3. IPL 2018 – A move to counter Kane Williamson
Kane Williamson had an excellent IPL in 2018, both as a captain and a batsman. With a strong technique and temperament, it needed some strategy to stop the New Zealander from scoring big. The right-hander played two brilliant knocks against Chennai in the league phase.
Dhoni brought Karn Sharma in place of Harbhajan Singh for the final. The leg spinner hadn’t done much in the league phase. But in the short spells he had bowled, he was effective in few games.
Dhoni decided to attack Kane with the leg-spinner and hence brought him straight after the powerplay. The SRH skipper asked Shikhar Dhawan to attack the leg spinner. Sharma was removed from the attack and introduced when Williamson started scoring runs through boundaries.
Karn bowled a wide leg-spinning delivery, Williamson came down the wicket for a big shot, missed the ball. Dhoni stumped him successfully. Sunrisers kept losing wickets and ended up with 178, which was 20 runs below-par at Wankhede. CSK chased it down successfully to win their third IPL title.