by Rex Clementine  

Mumbai Indians may have a bigger purse and all the resources at their disposal, but Chennai Super Kings have emerged as one of the best run franchises in the world. Narayanaswami Srinivasan and Kasi Viswanathan maybe the brains behind the franchise but even they listen to the undisputable king of Indian cricket – Mahendra Singh Dhoni.  

What kind of a team that CKS put up for this season. Everyone was laughing at their picks. There was one Devon Conway from far off New Zealand, who had rarely done anything significant in international cricket. Then there was this Ajinkya Rahane, a fine Test batsman but serious doubts about his T-20 credentials. Of course, there was Matheesha Pathirana. There are heaps of chaps in Sri Lanka who bowl like Lasith Malinga. But the good thing about M.S. Dhoni is that he is quickly able to identify the players with the x factor. Pathirana was one such.  

With a bunch of nobodies, CSK reached the top this season. Look at their overall record. They have won five IPL titles. Reached the finals ten times and qualified for the playoffs 12 times out of the 14 editions of the IPL.  

The whole of Madras wept when MSV passed away eight years ago. They will do so again the day MSD throws in the towel. Madras is a city that embraces those who have come there from other states for a living. It happened with M.G. Ramachandran. It happened with Sivaji Rao Gaekward, popularly known as Rajanikanth. It’s happening now with Dhoni.  

At the age of 41, what this man Dhoni does is quite remarkable. The batting prowess may have waned, but it is his brains that wins CSK games.  

Despite all the euphoria, the final was an anti-climax. Following a washout, the game went for the reserve day. The excitement may have lowered but not the entertainment.  

Defending champions Gujarat Titans had stormed into the playoffs and looked to have done enough to defend their title but they were blindsided by the brilliance of Dhoni. 

Coincidentally, a Madras boy Sai Sudarshan with a fine 96 almost helped Gujarat to retain the trophy and maybe their total of 214 could have proved to be sufficient if the game had gone the full distance as CSK kept losing wickets at regular intervals. 

But a revised target of 171 in 15 overs proved to be sufficient for them to get over the line. There was absolute joy in the Narendra Modi Stadium as Dhoni departed for a first ball duck. But the captain in waiting Ravindra Jadeja provided the killer blows to help CSK over the line in what was a last ball thriller.