MSD’s Midas Touch: CSK’s Maximum Return on Minimum Investment
Chennai Super Kings have never had a squad to inspire immense confidence at the beginning of the season. However, the team has punched above its weight time and again to stun the analysts, with three championships to show for it.
Many believe that it is the effect of skipper MS Dhoni and the CSK management –which includes coach Stephen Fleming– that gives a free hand to the team and does not interfere in selection or tactical issues. This is why the players are devoid of any baggage. They know their roles and hence are able to give it their all.
As a captain, MSD has also been successful in extracting the most out of his players. Cricketers like Ishwar Pandey, Mohit Sharma and more lately Deepak Chahar and Lungi Ngidi have blossomed under his captaincy. It is his keen eye of understanding players that has turned around the careers of many.
Also Read : IPL 2019 Schedule Announced, CSK v RCB in Opener
Bringing Rayudu Back In The Mix
Despite having an average of over 50, Ambati Rayudu was dropped just before the 2015 World Cup and was since sidelined on the pretext that by the time the next World Cup would arrive, he would not be in the scheme of things. After getting snubbed from his previous franchise, Mumbai Indians, things looked grim for the Hyderabad batter. But it was Dhoni who realised his potential, picked him up at the auction and slotted him at key batting positions.
"Even before IPL started I had to make space for Rayudu, because he is somebody I rate very highly. He can play both the fast bowlers and spinners very well. Most teams look to exploit the opener with spin bowling. He is someone who doesn’t look like a big hitter but almost clears the field every time he plays the big shot,” Dhoni said in a post-match IPL presentation.
The move turned around Rayudu's career and he has now become the designated No. 4 for the national ODI team.
Also Read : Why Ambati Rayudu Is Here to Stay
Finding Jadhav, The Bowler
In the last year or so, the chemistry between MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav has caught the eye of fans. Be it Dhoni chirping in Marathi from behind the wickets or mentoring Jadhav during a batting partnership, the two have palpable mutual respect which is heartening to see.
“I can’t put it out in words. Every time I see Mahi bhai, it instills confidence in me. That sort of aura is like, that you see him and feel that I will deliver today. He has the knack of getting the best out of every player and that’s what everybody loves about him,” Jadhav said after the duo batted India to a win in the first ODI against Australia.
Dhoni had seen the Punekar bowling in Zimbabwe for the first time. Then, in the New Zealand series at home in 2016, MSD wanted to squeeze out two overs from him. Jadhav repaid his faith by picking up two wickets in only his second over and the rest, as they say, is history.
Unfortunately, the all-rounder could only play one match for CSK in the last season in which he helped the team get over the line in the last over. He was then bogged down by a hamstring injury. This year, under the stewardship of Dhoni, Jadhav promises to be an integral part of the team.
Managing An Ageing Tribe
After the first day of 2018's IPL auction, the average age of the CSK squad was 33 years. The next day, the team bagged youngsters Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur and Lungi Ngidi. Now, this was a double-edged sword. Having so many players in their 30s in a format which is known for its dynamism could have become a deterrent. At the same time, managing youngsters like Chahar and Ngidi was also not a mean task.
However, skipper MS Dhoni balanced both things beautifully as not only did he let the senior men wear down, at the same time introduced the youngsters masterfully to the cut-throat competition of the league.
A case in point is that after Shane Watson notched up a century in the league stage of IPL 2018, Dhoni just did not throw the ball to him to avoid any possible injury. Watson proved his worth as a pure batsman and smashed a ton in the final when it mattered the most.
Another Season, Another Masterclass?
Several players have been a part of Chennai Super Kings throughout its nine-year journey in the IPL. However, captain cool has been a constant to the extent that he has now become almost synonymous with the franchise.
This year as well, the team does not boast of a whole lot of stars. Lesser known names such as Ruturaj Gaikwad, Dhruv Shorey, N Jagadeesan, Monu Kumar and Chaitanya Bishnoi feature in the CSK squad. But who knows, with MSD's Midas touch, a couple of these players might turn stars and help shape another memorable season for the franchise.
(Saksham Mishra is a freelance sports journalist, justifying hours of watching sports by scribbling down a few logical lines that might just about hold your interest. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
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