As the Chennai Super Kings team walked into the hotel lobby after their team dinner on Sunday, it was clear the defending champions were not only about the big international stars. Murali Vijay, S Badrinath and R Ashwin were flooded with autograph and picture requests by the waiting fans. S Aniruddha was also in demand. The four are yet to establish themselves at the highest level but they are darlings of the Chennai crowd.
‘CSK like Man U’
As Ashwin told HT, the aim is to make CSK the Manchester United of the IPL, and the club looks on course to achieve that.
Apart from being successful, it’s important to build club and player loyalty. It is that much easier if your key performers happen to be local players as the crowd-connect is instant. CSK has been lucky in that regard. Badrinath and Vijay are their top run-getters in IPL-IV. Ashwin is their bowling spearhead. In five games, Badrinath aggregates 161 runs (SR 129.83) while Vijay has scored 149 runs.
Vijay is a hit with the youngsters because of his aggressive batting (has a strike rate of 156.84), and due to his good looks and flamboyant style, he has quite a large female following too.
For most other teams, the local connect ends with one or two big names. Having won the IPL and Champions League last year, CSK did everything they could to retain as many players as possible. The result was that no less than 11 CSK players have stayed on with the franchise.
“In the IPL, the team’s success is mainly based on the performance of the Indian players. It is the reason Mumbai Indians and CSK did well last year. The big names are an attraction but if the local players are doing well, they are definite crowd pullers. CSK has everything going for it, in Dhoni they have the Indian captain and Suresh Raina is a star as well,” says former India opener WV Raman.