The critics have taken the punch on their face for 2 consecutive years now. They wrote CSK off as dad’s army in 2018 and wondered if it would be too big a challenge to live up to the reputation for one more year in 2019. But as they famously say about Mahendra Singh Dhoni –the man had other plans. And just look what he has done to the naysayers!
In 2020, when everything totally out of the books is happening like it’s just another Monday, the pundits are still not betting on this being the year when CSK finally don’t make it to the playoffs. They have learnt their lesson the hard way over the years. If this article was a meme, it would just be Dhoni holding his critics by the scruff of their neck and shoving them into Chennai’s trophy cabinet. But we all know he wouldn’t do that. He is too humble for that. And those ardent fans who have seen him play with his daughter in the backdrop while CSK lifted the trophy would know, he probably never gave a damn about what his critics said in the first place. Dhoni has earned himself a seat way above the ceaseless blabber. He is untouched and unfazed. And by all evidence this aura of him seems to have rubbed on his fellow team mates at Chennai.
They love him there. They idealize him. When Sam Billings made his debut for CSK, he went on record to admit how much in awe he was of the great man. He is a youngster. It doesn’t come as a surprise that he is overwhelmed by MSD but then you look at Faf and Watto and the respect they have in their hearts for him is no way lesser. And when a team, down to every single individual is magnetized by the charm of their captain, it’s only inevitable that they would ingrain some of his qualities. If you ever wondered, from where does Chennai Super Kings get their ‘never say die’ spirit, just know they never needed to look beyond the dressing room. And in Stephen Flemming and MS Dhoni they have got two legends of the game at the helm who wouldn’t just chop and change for the sake of it. They ensure they pursue with the players long enough so they get the ‘never say die’ spirit kicking on the field.
When you look at CSK of 2020, you are forced to admit the team might miss Suresh Raina but you dare not say it because.. well they might just prove you wrong with another trophy. The coronavirus hit them the worst of all teams. One of their premier spinners discovered some personal reasons to give the tournament a miss this year. The +1 in the age column doesn’t help either. And on top of all that they are scheduled to play 3 games in first week itself!
Now if you are an okay-ish fan of CSK you might be chewing on your nails already but if you really know the man and the team, you might have discovered a reason there to leap in joy. This is the same familiar territory, MSD is Picasso of. When odds get rolling, MS gets rocking. They thrive under pressure. It’s their dal-chawal. They have this secretive mechanism by which they grab the wind blowing against them and blow it right into the sail and off they go!
There is lot of positivity around CSK. They are like monks amongst pop stars. There is an air of simplicity around them, resembling a classical small town standing tall amidst buzzing metropolises. They are the calm in the storm. They are the ‘shravan kumars’ in the age of brats. You look at these guys and you just can’t help but notice the peace that prevails in their camp. CSK is just not a team. It’s a family and that too a joint family with some soothing Indian values. There is no stopping these guys from making into the playoffs year after year. CSK has a powerful soul and come 2020 or whatever, nothing can stop them from playing like the champions they are.
Until of course, the soul hangs the boots and bids farewell.