There are just two days left to see MS Dhoni back on the field in the yellow jersey. The wait is agonizing but exciting at the same time. The Indian Premier League (IPL) is all set to start off with a bang as Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Mumbai Indians (MI) kick start the tournament with the first match on April 7 at the Wankhede stadium.
The 11th season of the IPL will be very interesting to watch for a number of reasons and Dhoni’s return as captain of CSK will be a major attraction. IPL will return to Chennai after a gap of two years as CSK served the suspension due to their involvement in 2013 spot-fixing case. The side from Chennai has created a separate identity for itself based on its dominant run in the league over the years. Millions around the world love the former India captain but his following in Chennai is at a different level altogether. CSK and Dhoni are like a match made in heaven. No other team has had the same captain leading the side in all the seasons. Therefore, it came as no surprise when the franchise retained him for a whopping Rs 15 crore along with two other star performers – Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja. Chennai had to go all out for Dhoni not just for his popularity but also because of the record that he has as a captain in the past few years.
Called as “Thala” by fans, Dhoni is still the most successful IPL captain with 83 wins and 59 losses in 143 games. The 36-year-old has led CSK in 132 matches since 2008 and has won 79 games, lost 51 while 2 matches failed to produce results. In the 8 seasons up until 2016, CSK won back-to-back IPL titles in 2010 and 2011. They also clinched the Champions League T20 twice in 2010 and 2014. Apart from the titles, Chennai have ended as runners-up on four occasions and have never been knocked out of the competition in the league stages. After CSK was suspended for two seasons, Dhoni played for Rising Pune Supergiant. But he failed to weave the magic of his CSK stint at RPS. He could only manage five wins out of the 14 matches and the franchise finished seventh in the eight-team tournament in the team’s debut season in 2016. This led to Dhoni’s removal from captaincy and the reins were handed over to Australia’s Steve Smith for the 2017 season who led them to the final.
The man with the Midas touch has won all possible trophies that a captain can and this tells the story of why he is indispensible to the CSK. Dhoni has captained CSK for 8 years and he knows what it takes to win the trophy, using his old formula of retaining the core group of players and building a team around them Dhoni looks all set to lead the Super Kings to another IPL Trophy this year. CSK have always been a strong batting side and they have maintained their reputation this year too. Right from the top of batting line-up, CSK have got the firepower and the variety with the likes of Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Sam Billings, Suresh Raina, M.S. Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Ambati Rayudu and Murali Vijay in their ranks. They have also got proven all-rounders in Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja to do the big hitting in the slog overs.
With such high hopes from CSK, Dhoni will have a huge task at hand of starting off from where they left the in 2015. But he is a seasoned campaigner and a vastly experienced captain who can get the job done no matter what. Therefore, trust Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings to start as one of the favourites to win the title once again this year. Watch out for the yellow brigade!