'The One' Who Can Change the Game from Behind the Stumps: Chennai Super Kings - X Factor
MS Dhoni has found the role of finishing things off for himself in IPL 2023 (Source: AP Photo)
The four-time IPL champions, Chennai Super Kings (CSK), have once again made it to the playoffs and will be looking to give a tough fight to the defending champions. The MS Dhoni-led side has been in decent form this tournament. They have played 14 matches in the tournament and have managed to win eight of them. They finished the league stage at number two in the points table and will get two shots to qualify for the final.
Before thinking about the final and lifting the trophy, the Chennai Super Kings will have to overcome the obstacle of Gujarat Titans in Qualifier 1. Heading into the business end of the tournament, here is what can help CSK in their quest for the fifth title.
The Legend of A leader in the true sense of the term
If we look at the legacy of Chennai Super Kings as a team, many players and factors have contributed to it. But one thing that has been constant for CSK since the inception of IPL and that has been MS Dhoni's leadership. Over the years, it has not been like CSK have always accumulated the best of the players, but the clever utilisation of the resources by MSD has led to the team's success.
Just like that, coming into IPL 2023, CSK as a team had a lot of shortcomings, but the calm mind of MSD made the most of the resources available to him. So, let us look at some of the captaincy marvels of the MS.
Covering up for Deepak Chahar with Akash Singh
Deepak Chahar was sidelined due to injury after the first couple of matches. This was a massive setback for CSK, as their lead new ball bowler would not be available. But MSD backed a newbie in Akash Singh and made the best new ball bowler out of him. He served them decently till Chahar was fit enough to make a comeback.
From impact player to playing XI, Tushar Deshpande
Tushar Deshpande was brought into the field as an impact player in the first match. Unfortunately, he ended up on the wrong side as he conceded plenty of runs and extras, leading to the team's defeat. But MSD backed him, and from that first match, he has 20 wickets in 14 matches, giving a tough fight to players like Mohammed Shami and Rashid Khan for the purple cap.
Ajinkya Rahane version 2.0
A proper stable batter, written off from the Indian scheme of things, was backed by Mahendra Singh Dhoni and was given the freedom to express himself. This led us to witness a new version of Ajinkya Rahane, who kept attacking the bowlers from ball one and changed the complexion of a few games. The rediscovery of Rahane has been one more marvellous decision of MSD, the skipper.
Shivam Dube, the destructor of spin
The Indian middle-order left-hand batter has long been deemed unfit to play at the international level. But MS Dhoni backed him as someone who can increase the team's scoring rate by hitting the spinners in the middle overs. A strike rate of over 160 shows that he has done a more than decent job in the assigned role.
Seeing MS Dhoni's decisions throughout the tournament, it is likely that his captaincy will again be a critical factor in CSK's successful run. Yes, if the players hadn't performed, his decisions would have been useless. But the ability to back a player and bring the best out of them surely deserves mention.
As the business end of the tournament approaches, we hope to see some more daring decision by MS and his captaincy skills remains the biggest X-factor of the team.