Chennai Super Kings All-time XI: Dhoni, Raina, Bravo form bedrock of IPL’s biggest success story
Led by the man himself, MS Dhoni, CSK, despite serving a two-year-ban, completed a triumphant return in 2018 by winning the crown, before narrowly missing out on what could have been a fourth trophy for the side.Updated: May 20, 2020 13:16 IST
In terms of title wins Mumbai Indians may be the most successful franchise in the history of the IPL, but purely on the basis of consistency, impact players and striking a chord with the fans, Chennai Super Kings take the cake. They may be the second-most successful team with three IPL titles, but the fact that they have made the final another five times makes CSK the creme de la crème of T20 sides across all other leagues, let alone the IPL.
Led by the man himself, MS Dhoni, CSK, despite serving a two-year-ban, completed a triumphant return in 2018 by winning the crown, before narrowly missing out on what could have been a fourth trophy for the side. However, the little blip aside, CSK are right up there as the most charismatic and dynamic IPL team of all time, and the reason for their success could be attributed to the following players.
1. Murali Vijay (Matches 86, Runs 2173, Ave 26.50, SR 124.67)
He may no longer be an automatic pick in the side, but it was Vijay’s success at CSK that played a huge role in his stint with the Indian cricket team. Vijay was a dominant performer for CSK, his pyrotechnics at the top saw him rack up 458 and 434 runs respectively in 2010, 2011 – the first two years CSK won the IPL title, scoring 95 off 52 balls in the final against Kolkata Knight Riders. He scored over 300 runs each in the next two seasons before switching sides. He is also the first Indian cricketer to score two IPL centuries.
2. Michael Hussey (Matches 64, Runs 2213, Ave 40.98, SR 122.80)
Michael Hussey was no spring chicken when he started playing the IPL, but his numbers in the T20 competition reflect otherwise. Replacing Matthew Hayden as the opener of the side in 2010, Hussey scored 492 runs in his first full-fledged season with CSK with four half-centuries. His best season came in the year 2013, when Hussey won the Orange Cap for a staggering 733 runs, averaging 52.35 and peeling off six fifties. But despite his efforts, CSK fell agonisingly short of the title, losing to arch-rivals Mumbai Indians in the final. Hussey was the second century-maker in the history of the IPL as his unbeaten 116 routed Kings XI Punjab, just a day after Brendon McCullum’s 158 kicked off the tournament.
3. Suresh Raina (Matches 188, Runs 5369, Ave 33.98, SR 139.38, Wkts 36, Ave 30.36, ER 7.08)
If Hussey is called Mr Cricket, then Raina is deserving of a Mr. IPL tag. Raina is the most capped IPL player with 193 matches and for the most part, he was the all-time leading run-getter in the history of the tournament before Virat Kohli surpassed him. Still his numbers have always been impressive for CSK in the IPL. Raina’s tremendous consistency can be gauged from the fact that his tally of 374 remains his lowest runs in a season. In fact, the first five seasons, Raina did not score less than 400 runs in any editions. His numbers, as per the first seven seasons are 421, 434, 520, 438, 441, 548 and 523 respectively. After David Warner, Raina has the most IPL fifties – 32. Being a fabulous fielder, Raina is the first to complete 100 catches in the IPL. The man is a legend and a sure shot IPL Hall-of-Famer
4. S Badrinath (Matches 114, Runs 1667, Ave 28.25, SR 114.57)
This may not be a popular opinion but if you go by numbers, S Badrinath is the perfect No. 4 batsman in the CSK line-up. After a low-key first two editions, Badrinath turned the tide in the 2010 and 2011 seasons, scoring 356 and 396 runs respectively. In fact, in the year 2011, Badrinath averaged a pretty solid 56.57, which is bloody impressive for a batsman initially perceived as a misfit for T20 cricket. For the first six seasons, Badrinath was more like a constant in CSK’s batting line-up and even though his stats won’t exactly highlight dominance, Badrinath, being the team floater, held the innings together, and kept CSK alive against batting collapses at 3, 4 or even 5.
5. MS Dhoni (Capt/WK) (Matches 184, Runs 4307, Ave 42.22, SR 140.15)
Simply put, CSK wouldn’t have been a success had it not been for Dhoni. The icon player has become synonymous with the Men in Yellow and apart from the unprecedented heights that he’s taken the team to over the years, Thala, as he is fondly called by the Chennai crowd, is perhaps the most responsible in making CSK a brand than just an IPL side. No side is more loved than CSK, and Dhoni has led the side splendidly which is the reason for such adulation. Not once failing to go past the league stage, that’s a distinction CSK enjoy which no other IPL team does. Except 2010, not once has Dhoni had an average season with CSK, each time going past the 300-run mark, and when the doubters were clamouring over his form with the bat or calling the team a bunch of oldies, MSD knocked them out of the park, amassing 455 and 416 runs in the last two seasons at an average of 75.83 and 83.20. It is little surprising that he was named the GOAT among IPL captains, and this includes MI skipper Rohit Sharma
6. Ravindra Jadeja (Matches 116, Runs 1021, Ave 21.72, SR 130.22, Wkts 90, Ave 26.50, ER 7.70)
The “Rockstar” Ravindra Jadeja made his IPL debut under Shane Warne at the Rajasthan Royals but it is with Dhoni at CSK that the allrounder found his footing. After missing the 2010 IPL due to contractual irregularities, he was purchased by CSK as the most expensive player of the 2012 auction. But it was a move CSK would benefit heavily from as Jadeja went on to become one of their biggest impact players. His numbers aren’t extraordinary by any means but his impression goes beyond that. With the ball, he emerged Dhoni’s partnership-breaker and with the bat, came up with knocks out of nowhere. Eight years later, he is still doing it, and even though he may not have a fifty to show for his efforts, his strike-rate has always been on the higher side. As a left-arm spinner, Jadeja’s best years were 2014 and 2019, where he grabbed 19 and 15 wickets respectively.
7. Dwayne Bravo (Matches 103, Runs 1203, Ave 28.64, SR 136.24, Wkts 118, Ave 23.28, ER 8.31)
After spending the first two years with Mumbai Indians, Bravo became a crowd favourite when he joined CSK ahead of the third season. In 2012, Bravo was one of the top performers with the bat scoring 371 runs at an average of 46.37 and strike-rate of 140.54. The following year, he picked up 32 wickets, making him the Purple Cap winner in 2013. In fact, Bravo is one of two players to win the Purple Cap twice – he claimed 26 wickets in 2015 – the other being Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Bravo’s asset is nothing that people don’t know of; just that with CSK, the allrounder keeps raising the bar each year.
8. R Ashwin (Matches 121, Wkts 120, Ave 23.70, ER 6.66)
The practice of spinners bowling inside the Powerplay was one introduced by R Ashwin. Dhoni backed his premier offspinner to open against the likes of Chris Gayle, David Warner and Rohit Sharma and more often than not, Ashwin would get the job done. Over half of his IPL wickets have been in the form of an opposition’s top three batsmen. Long before Dhoni became Thala, Ashwin was the original Super King to have emerged from the team. With 120 wickets, Ashwin is CSK’s leading wicket-taker, even though he switched sides ahead of the 2018 edition of the IPL. In his breakthrough edition of the IPL, Ashwin picked up 13 wicket and over the years became one of Dhoni’s biggest allies in foxing batsmen. Bowling in the middle overs, Ashwin’s economy rate is 6.09, which is above the likes of Rashid Khan, Sunil Narine and Yuzvendra Chahal. He remains one of the few bowlers to bowl more than a thousand dot balls in the history of the IPL.
9. Albie Morkel (Matches 92 matches, Runs 909, Ave 23.30, SR 142.25, Wkts 91, Ave 25.94, ER 7.98)
Former South Africa allrounder Albie Morkel had a short yet impactful stay at CSK. His overall numbers may not present the complete picture, but for Morkel, his CSK tenure was one filled with memorable moments. In 2013, he and Vijay were involved in a record third-wicket partnership against the Rajasthan Royals, putting on 152 runs. A year before, Morkel hit a stunning 91 to help CSK chase down Royal Challengers Bangalore’s 205/8, including an over where he plundered Virat Kohli for 28 runs. In 91 matches, Morkel thrice grabbed a three-wicket-haul and once took four in an innings.
10. Doug Bollinger (Matches 41 matches, Wkts 55, Ave 19.78, ER 7.30)
The sight of a tall, mean, ruthless Aussie storming in to bowl, backed by the crowd’s regular chanting of his name: “Bollingerrr… Bollingerrr.” That’s Doug Bollinger for you. In his first ever IPL match, Bollinger took a stunning catch helped CSK defend 246 against the Royals- losing his balance and backpedalling the ball into the field before regathering himself and completing the catch. And this was after he had bowled an economical spell of 2/15 in the match. He did the same against KKR, finishing with 2/15 in four and later again against the Delhi Capitals (formerly Daredevils) claiming 2/24. That’s the kind of impact he made. Hard to get away with at the start, tough to score off in the death. Even though he played just three seasons for CSK, he gave away 693 runs from 576 balls.
11. Deepak Chahar (Matches 29, Wkts 32, Ave 23.75, ER 7.40)
Deepak Chahar is the most recent find of the IPL, his ability to choke the opposition with the new ball raising his stocks. Such has been Chahar’s ability to stem the flow of runs that there have been times when Dhoni has not hesitated in letting the fast bowler bowl all four overs in a row. From being a Powerplay specialist in 2018 – no player has taken more wickets (217) than him since IPL 2018 – Chahar became a death-over specialist for CSK last year. He has variations such as the off-cutter, the knuckle ball to fox oppositions and has immensely benefited from the fact that Dhoni has thrown him at the deep end of the pool. Again, just two memorable seasons for CSK, but without Chahar, CSK would have struggled to complete their dream comeback to the IPL.