Chennai Super Kings have time and again proved their superiority over the lesser mortals of the Indian Premier League jamboree. The most successful franchise of the IPL stands on the verge of penning down yet another story of triumph, giving a mortal form to the often quoted ‘back from the dead’ trope. Being the winner of the past two editions, they were the favorites as another season unfolded.
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The beginning wasn’t to their liking. They lost their first match against Mumbai Indians by eight wickets but registered a resounding win over tournament laggards Deccan Chargers in the next. Their show during the initial league matches didn’t reflect the fact that they were the defending champions. However, as the season progressed the team peaked and thanks to Royal Challengers Bangalore they managed to sneak into the playoffs.
They have a history of coming all guns blazing when it is needed the most. Friday night was no different. Murali Vijay, who has had an ordinary outing, became the first Indian batsman to slam two IPL centuries when he rocked the M A Chidambaram crowd in the second IPL qualifier against Delhi Daredevils. With that win, the team progressed to its fourth IPL final.
Zeenews.com’s sports team takes a look at the key players, who brought CSK’s campaign back on the track, guiding them to the IPL 2012 final:
Captains lead by example. MS Dhoni has done this on numerous occasions no matter whether he dons blue or yellow jersey. He has been in charge of the Chennai Super Kings right from the first season and led them to four IPL finals—two of them culminating into title victories.
It was Dhoni who launched an assault against Mumbai Indians in the IPL 5 eliminator match, firing 51 runs off just 20 deliveries and powered them one step closer to the grand finale.
Much has been said about his calm nature and this season was no different. Whether it was juggling between different bowlers to stagnate the opposition’s run flow or getting breakthroughs at the right time, Dhoni delivered time and again.
It was his decision to persist with erroneous Murali Vijay forcing in-form Faf du Plessis to watch the proceedings from the sidelines. The ploy worked for CSK and Vijay responded with a blazing knock in the second qualifier against Delhi.
Dwayne Bravo has made a mark in the current season from the first match itself. His all round show has been one of the prime reasons that led to the late surge that propelled CSK to the final. Besides scoring 371 runs, he has also taken 14 wickets in this season. At times, he has outfoxed batsmen with his deft mixture of slower ones and lifted the spirit of the team with his electric fielding. In a match against Kings XI Punjab at Chepauk, he took two wickets, took a splendid catch and later scored 30 runs. Even though his team lost the match but his performance was enough to show why he is a triple threat.
Albie Morkel is another allrounder who has been a key member of the squad responsible for keeping the defending champions in the hunt despite a shaky start. He has taken 12 wickets and his ability with the bat makes him a dangerous prospect. Virat Kohli was at the receiving end of an assault that Morkel launched to steal an unlikely win against RCB in a league match earlier this season. He can come handy in tight situations.
At 36, Mike Hussey is one of the few international cricketers capable of switching from one format to another adjusting their batting style with ease and comfort. The Australian joined the CSK squad in the latter half of the tournament and since then has provided a steady start to their innings at the top. He has so far scored 207 runs in seven innings.
Murali Vijay performed when it mattered. Against a much fancied Delhi Daredevils team, the right hander made a mockery of their bowling attack, flaying them to all corners of the park. His knock of 113 runs paved the way for Chennai’s resounding 86-run win over Delhi. At the top along with restrained Mike Hussey, Vijay can provide a solid start that can lay a strong platform for Bravo and Dhoni to attack later in the innings.
CSK do not boast of a bowling attack that is something to be feared. Ben Hilfenhaus does not fall into the category of Dale Steyn or Lasith Malinga. He is more reliant on swing, line and length than pace. The Australian produced the delivery of the IPL 2012 season when he uprooted Delhi captain Virender Sehwag’s off stump in a league match, highlighting the reason why he has been drafted in the team. At times he can go for plenty but overall, he has been decent. In eight matches he has taken 12 wickets.