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IPL 2023: Dhoni’s leadership, family like environment & winning mentality were instrumental for CSK

IPL 2023: MS Dhoni’s leadership, family like environment & winning mentality were instrumental for CSK on the course of fifth IPL title. Reason for CSK's successful campaign.

IPL 2023_ MS Dhoni has won five IPL trophies as captain for CSK; CSK won IPL 2023_ Walking wicket (Images_ ©IPL_Twitter)
Dhoni has won five IPL trophies as captain for CSK (Images: ©IPL/Twitter)

As Ravindra Jadeja timed the leg-sided final delivery of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 to gift Chennai Super Kings their fifth IPL trophy of the tournament, there was pure emotion in the atmosphere at the iconic Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. Even the man who seldom displays his reaction on the cricket field, Mahendra Singh Dhoni too couldn’t resist himself as he embraced Jadeja, as his eyes were filled with tears of joy.

Coming to this season on the back of their poor 2022 show where they finished ninth in the points table, CSK were already down with a young bowling line-up with few of their batters being out of touch along with their 41-year-old captain who himself was struggling with knee injury; but they fought as a group throughout the whole competition.

Let’s take a look at few things that made CSK special and set them apart from the other teams.

Dhoni’s leadership shone through in keeping full faith on his resources

One of the main mantras for MS Dhoni in the history of the tournament has been of not regretting about those options which one lacks but to focus and working out how one could use their available resources in the best possible way. For any player whether young or experienced, the basic is to provide them full belief and security behind their place in the playing eleven.

Very seldom one would find changes in the Chennai Super Kings side; even if their players don’t perform at the start of the tournament, they keep full faith on their abilities and value themselves and that’s where MS Dhoni’s leadership sets CSK apart from the rest of the teams who after few games start to make ample changes in the set-up.

“What separates MS from everybody else as captain in many ways is that, say guys have a couple of bad games, especially in the first couple of games, and I think every other team would drop the player or say ‘look you are probably not good enough right now’ and that’s where MS sees things differently,” Moeen Ali beautifully elaborated the difference between MS Dhoni and other leaders in the competition. “They see the potential and give them chances; most team don’t do that and they don’t stick with the players long.”

One could think that MS Dhoni is like the alfresco chef who collects any ingredients and ends up making the best recipe with that. He made Manpreet Gony and Sudeep Tyagi good enough to play for India and notably, by the time they left CSK, they didn’t remain the same players.

He had the same impact on Shivam Dube who had cracked just 35 sixes in 31 innings in his last three seasons and he finished the 2023 season with 35 sixes in 14 innings. Dhoni even made a 20-year-old Matheesha Pathirana good enough to bowl his three overs in the death phase of the game throughout the whole season.

IPL 2023: Mike Hussey, Dwayne Bravo and Stephen Fleming chatting in the CSK dugout _ Walking wicket (Images_ ©IPL_Twitter)
Hussey, Bravo and Fleming chatting in CSK dugout (Images: ©IPL/Twitter)
Heartwarming family bond and a marvellous team management that trusts players

Even though a 41-year-old player is leading the side and winning games from losing positions having the best quality of reading any situation of the game, the people behind the scenes in the management too have a huge impact on the players.

The CSK management, led by their head coach Stephen Fleming, always supports their players even in their bad times. By the time any new player comes to the team, they are handed their particular role from the start of the season and most importantly they speak in an honest way for the player to understand his job. There is no compulsory training session in CSK as their former player Robin Uthappa has stated; all are optional sessions where a player needs to understand his shortcomings and polish it in his way besides getting full help from the coaching staff.

Shivam Dube was slotted at number three for the entire tournament with a role of going after the spinners to lift the run rate while Ajinkya Rahane was given the role of an aggressor and someone who could play according to the demand of the game. Moeen Ali who batted at number three for last two seasons was dropped lower down the order but because of the management’s faith in him, he never felt insecure in the group.

Besides that, the team management is like a family which takes care of players even when they are not around this team. Deepak Chahar, after getting picked up for INR 14 crores in the auction, missed out the 2022 season due to back injury but the management kept full trust on him and looked after him during his recovery time. Even Mukesh Choudhury who had a fantastic last season was ruled out of this season with injury but he too has been managed excellently by the CSK management.

IPL 2023: MS Dhoni and Stephen Fleming at CSK's training session _ Walking wicket (Images_ ©IPL_Twitter)
Dhoni and Fleming at CSK's training session (Images: ©IPL/Twitter)
Special winning mentality of Fleming-Dhoni partnership

The long-lasting relationship between MS Dhoni and Stephen Fleming has done wonders for CSK. They know the atmosphere of this team for a long time.

Their batting coach, Michael Hussey too has played for the yellow army in the past and he too as a batting coach knows what’s needed to keep the team as a group. Giving the players full clarity and making them understand their roles is the main mantra of this team.

“What has always stood out for me is that the clarity in their communication and follow-ups is second to none,” Uthappa said. “There is a role that’s defined as soon as you enter the set-up and that role is defined or redefined to you, or reiterated to you, constantly through the season, and they check back with you.”

There were so many past instances from the players like Ambati Rayudu or Shane Watson who after some poor editions with other teams rediscovered themselves in this team and that’s because they have been given a specific role for the whole season. Another great aspect of this side is picking up an eleven and going with the same team for a long period of time. There have been so many times when Dhoni has said “we are going with the same eleven’’ during the toss time and that has made the players believe in their own abilities too.

And then there is that immense love and support from their fanbase, the ‘Whistle Podu’ army. For this whole season, wherever this team travelled, the yellow army followed them and made all their away games a home like feeling.

The Chennai Super Kings are now the joint most successful franchise of the Indian Premier League with Mumbai Indians thanks to their five trophies and now for the next season in 2024, they will look to go one step better with six trophies and becoming the most successful side of the league.


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