IPL 2019: The Chennai Super King way of breaking stereotypes
As I write this, Chennai Super Kings who are currently facing Kolkata Knight Riders are well on their way to chase down a paltry target of 109. The win will take them to the top of the table and there is every chance that they will qualify for the IPL 2019 playoffs. So, how do Chennai Super Kings manage to make winning matches so easy when the average age of the whole team is 34 years?
Age is just a number…
Sports and T20 in general over the years have built this misconception that you cannot win if you are on the other side of 30. As you grow with age, your reflexes slow down, it takes extra effort to put the ball away for a boundary, it becomes difficult to run and sustain that level of fitness for 40 overs.
Chennai Super Kings for some reason have successfully proven the very stereotype to be wrong. Not only have they won three IPL titles, but the last one which was a comeback for the men in yellow proved to be the title-winning year for them.
Smart decisions taken in the auctions…
The first reason why Chennai Super Kings is doing so well this season is the result of the decisions taken in the previous year auctions. Chennai, during the auction, was extremely clear that they would be picking up players who
were not only experienced but also those players who knew very well what it took to win the IPL title. MS Dhoni, Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, Suresh Raina, Dwayne Bravo, Imran Tahir, and Harbhajan Singh are not only experienced players but have also won IPL titles previously. It is the experience which plays a huge role in Chennai Super King become a title contender.
There is a winning culture in the dressing room…
The culture in the Chennai Super Kings dressing room reflects on the performance shown by the players on the field.
Unlike Royal Challengers Bangalore where the whole team relies on Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers, Chennai Super Kings do not rely on any one player to get them over the line. The players including Dhoni have performed and taken the team to victory whenever the need has arisen. It can be clearly seen that there is no star culture inside the dressing room and every player are there for each other to support and play together as a team.
Chennai Super Kings have shown that one can get a lot of success if one has a very good bowling unit. One will have to give credit to Mahendra Singh Dhoni who has utilized his bowling unit very well. The spin unit of Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, and Michell Santner has been brilliant as they have not only stopped runs but also taken wickets at crucial junctures. What stands out is the pace trio of Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, and Scott Kuggelejin who came as a replacement for Lungi Ndidi and has immediately started contributing to the success of the team. The team has got bowlers who not only contain runs from flowing but also pick wickets at regular intervals.
Dhoni’s leadership has made a difference…
Dhoni has not been afraid of making changes to his team. One example that stands out is dropping Harbhajan Singh for the third match and bringing in Santner despite the fact that the off-spinner had done well in this first two games. The fact that he brought in Mohit Sharma in place of Harbhajan for the away match against the Mumbai Indians, and went with only three foreigners in some of the matches shows the bold decisions that Dhoni is capable of making.
In the end, Dhoni has really utilized his resources very well, and especially the bowling unit which is reminiscent of the 2011 World Cup campaign where despite having no bowlers who could bowl above 140 mph, India under Dhoni went on to win the World Cup title.
Chennai Super Kings is certainly not a perfect team and will have its off days like the one it had against Mumbai Indians. However, the players in the team have gelled well and are well aware of each others strength and weaknesses. Add to it the shrewd brains of MS Dhoni, and Chennai Super Kings are certainly a serious title contender.
We can only sit back and watch in awe how these bunch of players who are not getting any younger are breaking cricket’s biggest stereotype i.e. you cannot win titles if you are old.