Chennai Super Kings (CSK) joined Mumbai Indians (MI) in the elite club of IPL franchises to have won titles in both India and UAE. After a disastrous IPL 2020 season last year in the Middle East, the Super Kings scripted a comeback for the ages to secure their fourth championship.
The Chennai-based franchise finished second on the IPL 2021 standings behind the Delhi Capitals. They were the first franchise to reserve their spot in the playoffs, but CSK did not have much momentum on their side heading into the Qualifier 1 match because they suffered three defeats in their last three league games.
However, the MS Dhoni-led outfit played at a different level in the playoffs and defeated the Delhi Capitals and Kolkata Knight Riders to win the trophy. Almost every CSK player contributed to the team's success in IPL 2021. In this listicle today, we look at the top three best performers for the Super Kings this season.
1. Ruturaj Gaikwad - 1st Indian to win Orange Cap while playing for CSK in IPL
The last time a CSK batter won the IPL Orange Cap award was back in 2013 when the team's current batting coach Michael Hussey topped the batters' charts with 733 runs. Before Hussey, his compatriot Matthew Hayden had won the Orange Cap in CSK colors.
Many great Indian batters have played for the Chennai-based franchise in IPL history, but Ruturaj Gaikwad emerged as the first Indian to win the Orange Cap while playing for CSK in an IPL tournament. The right-handed batter amassed 635 runs in 16 matches at an average of 45.35 to finish number one on the Orange Cap leaderboard.
Gaikwad registered one century and four fifties in the tournament. His highest score was 101*, and he batted at a strike rate of 136.26.
2. Faf du Plessis
Ruturaj Gaikwad's opening partner Faf du Plessis performed with supreme consistency in IPL 2021. The South African star was one of the few bright spots of CSK's campaign last year and he continued his fine form in the 2021 edition of the Indian Premier League as well.
Faf du Plessis played in all 16 matches for the Super Kings and aggregated 633 runs in 16 innings at an average of 45.21. His batting strike rate was 138.20, while du Plessis recorded six fifties in the tournament. Most importantly, he played an 86-run knock in the IPL 2021 Final that helped CSK beat KKR by 27 runs.
3. Shardul Thakur
Shardul Thakur was the only Chennai Super Kings bowler to take 20 wickets in IPL 2021. The CSK all-rounder scalped 21 wickets in 16 matches at an economy rate of 8.80. Thakur made it a habit to dismiss the opposition team's key batters in IPL 2021.
Last night in the final game against Kolkata, Thakur turned the game by dismissing Venkatesh Iyer and Nitish Rana in the same over. Later in the match, he completed his three-wicket haul by sending Rahul Tripathi back to the dressing room.
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Thakur did not get enough chances to contribute with the willow, but he ensured that CSK won their fourth title by taking wickets consistently with the ball.