CSK Road to Victory
The Chennai Super Kings romped home to a record-equalling 5th IPL title. It looked all over for CSK until the last two deliveries that completely changed the course of history. CSK is now tied with Mumbai Indians at 5 trophies apiece. It was for the first time an IPL final went to the reserve day and CSK held their nerves to emerge victorious. Let us look at CSK Road to Victory.
How the tournament planned out for CSK?
The most consistent side in the IPL started off with a loss to the defending champions Gujarat Titans. Incidentally, CSK ended up playing the same side in the finals. CSK had finished second on the points table winning 8 games and 1 ending up in no result. They defeated GT at Chennai in the first qualifier to storm into the finals. The winner of Qualifier 1 had gone on to win the trophy 10 times out of 12 until then. But CSK had to contest the home side in the finals. They appeared sloppy in the field but put on a show chasing a stiff score in a rain-curtailed reply.
The pre-tournament expectations:
CSK finished in the ninth spot in IPL 2022. The mega auction didn’t help their cause and their case was similar to the Mumbai Indians. Not many had expected CSK to make their way to the playoffs as the side looked largely the same as last year. Any improvement in standings as compared to IPL 2022 was going to be a massive uptick.
CSK road to victory, Chennai Super Kings were crowned the champions of IPL 2023. We review what were the hits, misses, and what’s next for CSK
What were the hits for CSK?
#1 Decision-making and role clarity
CSK made shrewd tactical decisions this year. They backed the players providing them with immense role clarity. The likes of Ambati Rayudu, Ajinkya Rahane, and Shivam Dube were given clear memos. Rahane was asked to unshackle and target pace bowlers. Dube was given the task of taking down spinners. Rayudu despite getting limited chances kept showcasing his worth. It was this trio who pulled off the stunning chase in the finals acing their roles to perfection.
#2 The opening combination
Devon Conway did exactly what the previous overseas openers for CSK would do. He played both the roles of anchor and aggressor depending on the match situation. His 47 off 25 balls set up the chase for CSK in the finals. He had an able supporter in Ruturaj Gaikwad. The left-right opening combination more often than not provided a terrific base for fellow batters.
#3 The man himself – MS Dhoni
There was a lot of speculation around MS Dhoni’s participation in the tournament this year. He wanted to play one more season in front of the home crowd in Chennai. But there were question marks around how the season would pan out. MS Dhoni though marshalled his troops brilliantly to take the side to yet another IPL title.
His handling of a limited bowling attack drew wide praise. Dhoni stuck to the same side largely irrespective of the results. All these factors came in handy as the entire team put up winning contributions right through.
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What were the misses for CSK?
#1 The handling of Moeen Ali
It was Moeen Ali who changed the template of CSK batting in IPL 2021. The freedom with which the left-hander batted rubbed on the team. But this year Ali was hardly seen doing anything. He was neither asked to take down the spinners nor was slotted in as a finisher. Despite him picking 4 wickets in the game against LSG he was rarely called upon to bowl. CSK had the riches to excel without his contribution. But the move could have backfired easily.
#2 Ben Stokes
He was CSK’s big-ticket signing this season. Ben Stokes was expected to be MS Dhoni’s ally in big games. But Ben Stokes was confined to the bench throughout the season barring a couple of games. CSK’s composition didn’t allow Stokes to play a defining role. This is something the management needs to relook at in the next edition.
What is next for CSK?
They would certainly be chasing history next year as they aim to become the first side to win 6 titles. There would be intense competition with arch-rivals Mumbai for the crown. CSK can also create a historic double of winning the title in consecutive years twice. Whether they could go all the way will once again depend on that man, his myth, and his legend!