IPL 2019: What does it take to supersede the Super Kings?
Building a successful IPL squad is no mean task. The financial constraints, along with the restriction on the number of overseas players, make it imperative for a franchise to make judicious decisions to have all areas covered.
When a side invests generous amounts in prodigious Indian talent, acquires a cadre of international performers, and appoints a charismatic leader like MS Dhoni at the helm to steer things, it materializes into Chennai Super KIngs.
CSK have undoubtedly been the most consistent side in the league. The team has made it to the playoffs every season it has played, featuring 7 times in the final and having 3 titles in the kitty.
While the team is known for its sporting attitude and benevolent spirit, its on-field ruthlessness can be best appreciated by Sunrisers Hyderabad, who had to bite the dust on four occasions against the yellow brigade in the previous season, or from Royal Challengers Bangalore, who were denied a victory in 7 consecutive encounters over a span of 4 seasons.
Yet, whenever Mahi's men have run away with the unparalleled tag of 'uncrowned champions' of the league, their dominance has been challenged by the side from the western enclave, the Mumbai Indians.
The MI vs CSK rivalry is arguably the most cherished and keenly contested rivalry of the championship, celebrated as the El-Clasico of the IPL. The rivalry is filled with numerous epic sagas, with the sides having squared off 28 times, including thrice in the finals and four times in the playoffs.
The clash is a visual delight, with fans divided into ardent factions over their favourites.
Despite the might, mettle and sheer dominance of CSK, their western counterparts hold an ace up their sleeve, having emerged victorious on 16 occasions - including both the matches in the ongoing IPL 2019. In the three title clashes as well, the Blue Brigade have edged the Men in Yellow twice.
CSK have been formidable at home, and in the last 17 home games have lost just twice, with Mumbai Indians being the opponent on both the occasions. Mumbai is the only team in the history of the league to have dominated the Super Kings, and held a better win-loss ratio against them.
So what does it take to outshine the best in the business? Dissecting the anatomy of the teams, both comprise of premier Indian impact players in Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni. The core consists of the cream of Indian internationals, such as Jasprit Bumrah, Suresh Raina, Hardik Pandya and Kedar Jadhav.
Both teams also have proven international match winners in Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Lasith Malinga and Shane Watson.
CSK have a slight edge over MI with regard to the intellectual dynamics. Though Rohit has been an inspirational leader for Mumbai, and shrewd in his moves as a captain, Dhoni always seems to have a trump card with him, which he demonstrated by the setting of an unorthodox field for Pollard in the 2010 final.
All the planning and strategies, no matter how meticulously or tactfully done, bear fruit only if they can be materialized on the field. And it is in this particular aspect where Mumbai hold a clear edge over their arch-rivals.
Sometimes, all the tactics seem to falter under the pressure of a lethal attack. The ability to handle this pressure better as a unit, and close out a game from a crunch situation, has been the key to the success of MI over the defending champions.
CSK on their part have the ability of taking the game right down to the wire and emerging victorious, since they have the magical MSD in front of or behind the stumps on most of the occasions. This was the very reason that led to the downfall of the western side in the 2010 title clash.
Analyzing the encounters of the two sides post that match reveals that Mumbai Indians have focused on not only defeating the Super Kings, but also winning by comprehensive margins. They have initiated an all-out attack right from the beginning, thus keeping the pressure mounting on the side from the south.
This approach was responsible in winning them the titles in 2013 and 2015, where they defeated CSK by 23 and 41 runs respectively.
Mumbai is often hailed as the 'City of Dreams', and is famous for the people's spirit of working day in and day out and remove the prefix from the word 'impossible'. It is this spirit and the ability to thrive in the face of adversities that has enabled them to tame the Super Kings, one of the best sides of the IPL.