In orchestrating a remarkable turnaround to qualify for the semifinals, the Chennai Super Kings has shown belief and character. Crucially, the side won the big moments in the decisive final stages of the league.
The odds were stacked against the Chennai side after its first seven games of the Indian Premier League. Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men had won just two matches, losing the other five.
Then, there was a dramatic change in the script. The side surged in the second half of the league, winning five of its seven matches and improving its nett run-rate. At the death in Dharamsala, the side lived.
The skipper was in the thick of things at the end of it all when he donned the role of a finisher in the pulse-pounding last two overs against Kings XI Punjab. He got under the ball and employed his powerful wrists to fire the sphere over the fence.
In the cauldron and under immense pressure, the CSK survived.
The popular side is marshalled by a charismatic captain who leads from the front. The CSK's selection of the eleven and the changes in the batting order have not always been convincing but Dhoni has this inspirational quality in him.
There is a calmness about him — during all times — that has a stabilising effect on the team. When the leader shows faith in his men, the side responds. Under adversity, the CSK has held firm.
The decision to give the talented M. Vijay a run at the top of the order turned the fortunes of the side. Vijay, a natural, rode on his skill to provide CSK blazing starts when it was picking itself off the mat. His stroke-play took the pressure off the other cricketers.
The left-handed Suresh Raina has batted with flair to disrupt the rhythm of the attack. He can pierce the gaps and unleash the big blows. The southpaw provides momentum to his side.
S. Badrinath, under-rated and unsung, pulled his weight for his side when it mattered most. While he is solid, Badrinath can also innovate.
In bowling, off-spinner R. Ashwin has been outstanding with his control and the ability to bowl different deliveries with his strong wrist and supple fingers. While he has a high-arm action, he can surprise the batsmen with deliveries that can fizz through from a low, round-arm release.
Left-arm speedster Doug Bollinger, lion-hearted and zestful, has bowled with pace and extracted lift. Fellow Australian Matthew Hayden has been a disappointment, but the team-management has shown immense faith in the explosive batsman.
The CSK will be a clear and present danger to the other teams in the knock-out stage. But there are still a few chinks in its bowling.