Great teams have a sense of occasion. Chennai Super Kings has that.
The manner in which CSK effortlessly lifted its game in the IPL final against Kolkata Knight Riders underlined its killer instinct.
These are glory days for CSK, with its talismanic skipper M.S. Dhoni orchestrating a remarkable recovery from last season’s debacle.
Finger on the pulse
Few cricketers understand the dynamics of T20 cricket like Dhoni does. He has his finger on the pulse of the game, comprehends the ebb and the flow, and gives cricketers the freedom to express themselves.
‘Captain Cool’ should be available for CSK for at least one more season. The BCCI is likely to allow two Indians and two foreigners or three Indians and an overseas player per franchise as its retention policy.
With the mega auction consisting of two additional teams coming up in January, CSK will also rebuild for the future as Dhoni hinted.
CSK was not short of champions in this edition. The ethereal Ruturaj Gaikwad, so light on his feet, tormented the bowlers at the top of the order with strokes of rare beauty, charm and timing to bag the Orange Cap with 635 runs.
His opening partner du Plessis, ageless and versatile, disrupted the attack with bold strokeplay, to finish just two runs short of Ruturaj with 633.
Well begun is half done they say, and Ruturaj and du Plessis built a solid platform for CSK. A stage from which others could fire.
Robin Uthappa’s blitzkriegs in Qualifier 1 and the final were game-changing efforts.
Uthappa added muscle to the CSK line-up, batted with refreshing freedom, hit sixes at will.
Same with the smooth-stroking Moeen Ali. The left-hander, such a sweet timer of the ball, hit long balls.
The CSK bowling attack, boasting of the accuracy and movement of Josh Hazlewood, the wicket-taking ability of seamer Shardul Thakur, the swing and seam of Deepak Chahar and the beguiling variety of Dwayne Bravo, stung the opponents. Jadeja’s left-arm spin was always handy.
KKR has unearthed an exciting prospect in the nerveless Venkatesh Iyer.
A brave youngster who cuts and pulls the pacemen, drives them through the gaps and demolishes the spinners, Venkatesh is not intimidated by big names.
He is a handy seamer as well and his bowling will get better as the days progress.
By leaving out the influential Andre Russell in the final, KKR blundered.
IPL, though, is not always about the big names and RCB’s Harshal Patel, with exceptional pace variations, took home the Purple Cap with 32 scalps.
Rajasthan Royals’ Kartik Tyagi, a genuine talent, denying Punjab Kings four runs in the dramatic last over was an unforgettable vignette.
So was K.S. Bharat’s last-ball six that gave RCB a sensational win over the powerful Delhi Capitals.
K.L. Rahul was breathtaking with his strokeplay for Punjab Kings. He hit 30 sixes, but seldom slogged.
The lively Avesh Khan bowled a heavy ball and the hard length for Capitals.
And Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Umran Malik sent down some of the quickest deliveries of the IPL, one of them clocked as fast as 152.95 kmph.
In the IPL, heroes emerge from nowhere.