THALA Mahendra Singh Dhoni
The Indian Premier League kicked off in 2008 and is now finishing its 10th successful year. There have been many electrifying performances by many players from all over the world showcasing their talent and worth. But there is one player who is still an integral part of this league, who has achieved everything that the game can offer and who keeps on showing his worth– “Mahendra Singh Dhoni”
The former Indian captain’s journey in the IPL has been like a walk in the park. All these years later, fans across the globe are still able to witness the “Mahi Magic”- be it behind the stumps or with the bat.
In 2007, India won the inaugural World T20 in South Africa under the captaincy of MSD. At the IPL 2008 auction, all the franchises competed to buy the then-26-year-old. On the only occasion when Dhoni went under the hammer, Chennai Super Kings got him for a whopping 1.5 million dollars. The most expensive buy of IPL 2008. Thus, MSD started his IPL journey with what would become the most successful team in the IPL.
He repaid the faith shown by the franchise by leading his side to the first finals, before being edged out by the Rajasthan Royals in a tight finish. Dhoni scored 414 runs in 16 matches at 41.40, helping his team enormously.
In the second edition, the tournament shifted to South Africa. There, we witnessed the start of the Dhoni-Fleming era. Under Dhoni’s captaincy and Fleming’s coaching, the CSK side started to identify key members of the team who would go on to become the core of the side in the years to come. They gave many opportunities to players like Suresh Raina, Murali Vijay, and S. Badrinath, though they were youngsters, to play a central role in the team, and many of them stepped up to the occasion time and again.
CSK finished second in the points table and met the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the semi-final, but a poor batting performance led them down and they crashed out. Dhoni had another decent year with the bat, compiling 332 runs at 41.50.
As IPL returned to India in 2010, Dhoni now had managed to set up a core group of players, perfectly complemented by newcomers like Ravichandran Ashwin. Dhoni picked up an injury in the initial leg of the tournament and was forced to sit out for a week. Players like Doug Bollinger, Albie Morkel, and Matthew Hayden played crucial roles in MSD’s absence and helped the team to finish third in the points table.
In the semi-finals, CSK managed to squeeze out a win against the defending champions Deccan Chargers despite putting only 143 on the board. In the finals, against the Mumbai Indians, the team finished with a 22-run win and lifted the title for the first time. Dhoni had a decent outing with the bat scoring 287 runs at an average over 30.
2011 was a special year for Indian cricket and its fans. MS Dhoni firmly registered his name in the annals of history by leading India to its first World Cup win in 28 years. Mahendra Singh Dhoni returned within a month with a new look to clinch back-to-back IPL titles for CSK.
With the 2011 win, CSK completed a hat-trick of titles (including the Champions League) and became the first team to win all their home games in a season. Dhoni had an amazing World Cup final – where he hit the winning six – and enjoyed a good IPL season, scoring 392 runs at an average of 43.55.
2012- One more auction year and this time it was Ravindra Jadeja who made his way to Chennai’s side for 2 million dollars, which was the only pick by the franchise. CSK, now the 2 -time defending champions, had the services of players like Faf du Plessis, Dwayne Bravo, Scott Styris, and Tim Southee apart from the usual Indian stars.
It was yet another near-miss for the Dhoni-led side, which got defeated in the finals and had to hand Kolkata Knight Riders their first IPL title. Mahi yet again had a 300+ run season but managed to score only 1 fifty. In the 5th edition of the IPL, it was CSK’s 4th final that they played under the captaincy of Dhoni.
The extravaganza is headed towards its 6th season. With the IPL 2012 done and dusted, the governing body gave each of the IPL teams an option of truncating their respective squads. CSK retained 16 of its players and gave more importance to bulking up their domestic contingent.
This was a dream year for MSD as he led from the front and notched up 461 runs, his highest in a single season, at an average of 42 and strike rate of 163. He got four half-centuries, with the highest score of 67*. He also became the first captain to score 2000 runs in the IPL.
Playing in their 5th final, CSK lost to Mumbai by 23 runs and lost another chance to lift the title for the third time.
In 2014, MS Dhoni wore the captain’s hat for the seventh successive season. The team retained five players (Dhoni, Ashwin, Jadeja, Raina, and Dwayne Bravo) who are their key members of the team. Have become vital to the side’s fortunes over the last couple of seasons. The side reached the playoffs once again but didn’t qualify for the finals. Dhoni made close to 400 runs at an average of 74.20 and a strike rate of 148.
Dhoni led the Chennai team for the eighth and final time in IPL 2015. Had been forced to left with one of the most successful T20 franchises after the betting scandal. Forced the suspension of CSK and the Rajasthan Royals. The team reached the finals yet again, where they lost to the Mumbai Indians once again and 2013 repeated itself. Dhoni’s last season as captain of CSK was average, as he scored 372 runs at 31.
Dhoni shook hands with the new franchise, Rising Pune Supergiants, in 2016 after Chennai’s suspension. He had the task of leading a brand new team against a list of settled units in IPL 2016. The way they defeated the defending champions Mumbai Indians made everyone believe that the side had a bright future ahead. But a spate of injuries sent them crashing to four consecutive losses and eventually out of the tournament.
The inclusion of Usman Khawaja and George Bailey did little to help them. and the side had to face the Kings XI Punjab in what turned out to be a battle to avoid the last spot in the points table. With 23 needed off the last six balls, Dhoni held his nerve and smacked Axar Patel for back-to-back sixes in the last two balls to seal a win.
2016 was the worst year for the captain with 9 years of IPL experience. Dhoni registered less than 300 runs in a season for the first time.
But in 2017, with a minor change in the team’s name and with the new captain, RPS qualified for the finals of IPL 2017. Now, Dhoni has become the only player who will play his 7th final of the IPL.
Captaincy is in MSD’s blood. He started his IPL journey as the captain of the Chennai Super Kings from the league’s inaugural season in 2008. Dhoni is the most successful IPL captain with 83 wins in 143 matches.
Before leading RPS, Dhoni-led CSK in 129 matches with victories in 78 of them. However, he failed to weave his CSK magic at Pune. Where he could only manage five wins out of the 14 matches. The franchise finished seventh in the eight-team tournament in 2016.
Not only is MSD a successful captain, but his name is also there in the top 10 list of highest run-scorers in the history of IPL.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni has scored 3551 runs in 142 innings at an average of 38.18, better than many players on that list. He also holds the record of most dismissals by a wicket-keeper in the IPL: 106. He is one of the only three captains to have won the league twice (Gautam Gambhir and Rohit Sharma are the other two).
Under him, CSK won the IPL in 2010 and 2011 while the Champions League in 2010 and 2014. CSK also finished runners-up three times in the IPL.