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MS Dhoni's CSK do it again, this time even better

Last updated on 30 May 2023 | 12:33 AM
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MS Dhoni's CSK do it again, this time even better

A few years ago, it could have been just another day but this IPL was perhaps one of the biggest wins of Dhoni’s career

22 off 15 balls, the equation was fairly simple. 

Ambati Rayudu couldn’t have timed his innings in a better fashion, for he was walking away for one last time in the Indian Premier League (IPL), after winning five IPL titles. But one more?

When someone gets out on 19 off eight balls, there is always some palpable tension in the dressing room, especially in a final. But the man that was padded up and made the long journey down to embrace the love of the fans was none other than Thala, MS Dhoni

It was almost like the script couldn’t have been written better. 

Over the years, Dhoni has evolved, both as a player and a captain. As years of his cricketing life went by, the restriction - of age caught up with him. But the fans were in denial, they believed that he was forever young, and they also believed that he could wield his bat around like a magic wand. And just in a span of a few hits would turn everything around.

Dhoni knew that. Especially this season, more than ever. Every time he walked out, he painted the city Yellow. It didn’t matter where the ground was, it didn’t matter if it was miles away like in Pune or in the heart of the city like in Chennai. All that mattered was there was always a heart at the stadium for Dhoni.

He was literally the heartbeat of the IPL. 

Up against him was Mohit Sharma, someone who had grown in stature under the tactical acumen of the now 41-year-old, Dhoni. 

Mohit almost knew what he was up against, he knew giving Dhoni any sort of sniff would mean that he was digging his own grave. The crowd in Ahmedabad didn’t care about Mohit or co, it was Mahi that mattered.

He walked out in a similar fashion as he always does, donning charisma up his sleeves and ice-calm brutality up his bat. He looked up for once, almost like asking the gods, one last time, let’s do it. That was exactly how it was, and this season he understand his vulnerability more than ever, he was satisfied with cameos. 

Nearly 90,000 people jumped up and down. 

The match was already in its third day. 

You wouldn’t have blamed the crowd if they had left. Mohit ran to bowl, and a few seconds later, there was pin-drop silence. 

You could literally have dropped the lightest thing on earth, and the sound would have reverberated at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

The crowd went numb. They had seen it before. They had seen their hero, Dhoni fail. He isn’t immortal and never wishes to be one either. But when he walked back, for the first time, you could see emotions on his face. The cameras were constantly aiming at him, and his reaction was evident. 

Dhoni was on the verge of breaking down. Perhaps more in anger. For the first time in his entire cricketing career, his mind would have gone, “Mahi, tune match harva diya (You have made your team lose, Mahi)”. The pensive look on his face said it all. What happened on the field didn’t matter, it was almost a rub-your-eyes moment to see the 41-year-old express himself. And he did that entire bit without showing a single emotion.

Here was an ice-calm man, perhaps melting for the first time in his life. And had Chennai lost, he would have walked away with the blame. But rarely in life do bad things happen to someone as spectacular as Dhoni. At least not twice in the last two swansongs. Two could have broken a million hearts. 

Dhoni couldn’t “Control the Controllables”, which was an emotion redirected to himself. Over the last six hours, including multiple drops, misfields and a lightning-fast stumping, Dhoni rarely showed any emotion. But this time, he was ready to accept fate. 

But fate wasn’t ready to accept him. At least not without him winning another IPL title. 


This year, time and again, Dhoni has been a constant buzz in Ravindra Jadeja’s ears after a clash. It might be after a game where the left-arm spinner conceded just 2/12 and picked a wicket or a game where he severely tampered with his own performance, at 1/54. 

He has always been there. Somewhere at the back of his mind, Jadeja knew that. And he responded with the loudest whistle. 

10 off 2 balls, Mohit had already redeemed himself with a stunning over. 

Jadeja was now on strike. He bent his knee and lifted the ball straight down the ground for a six. Then, the ball flew past the fine-leg fielder, and then Jadeja ran a lap. But ultimately, he ran towards the one man that really defines the franchise in its flesh, Dhoni. 

Even with Dhoni's dodgy knee, the 41-year-old rejoiced in Ahmedabad, lifting Jadeja, and both shared a bond that seldom is reflected on the main pages of the newspaper or the trending section of Twitter. If CSK are the side that consistently beat the odds throughout the season, Dhoni was handling those odds with some trickery. 


Dreams are aligned and in just a year it has been aligned in such a way that two superstars, Dhoni and Lionel Messi, have lifted a trophy. That many didn’t believe they would. 

The two, though, share far more similarities. 

CSK lost to GT, and Argentina lost to Saudi Arabia. CSK huffed and puffed their way to the final, Argentina trusted the individual brilliance of Messi on more than one occasion. Once it reached the final, all eyes were on them. The moment Messi and Dhoni lifted their respective titles, records were broken and every frame became spectacularly viral.

Emiliano Martinez won it for Argentina, and here Jadeja won it for CSK. But ultimately both the Argentinian players and CSK players had a shared vision: wanting to see their skipper finish on a high. The bond that Martinez shared with Messi wasn’t any less than what Jadeja shared with Dhoni. 

The crowd went berserk, and so did the fans watching glued to their television screens. And as their icon walked up to the stage, everyone was prepared with their photos and memories of the man, the myth, the ghost, convinced that he would call it a day, once and for all.

But the words he uttered perhaps gained the biggest cheer of the night: ‘I want to give back to the fans by trying to play one more season.’

Dhoni’s batting might still not be the same, and his knees might still be trembling, but Dhoni’s clarity over emotions and words possibly makes him one of a kind. 

And if he hadn’t already won every heart in the world, he ensured he did it by asking a bonafide IPL legend, Rayudu, to lift the trophy. The dream that began with his cameo ended with Rayudu lifting the title. If that isn’t the cliched “Life is a circle”, then perhaps nothing really is.

MS Dhoni and his Chennai Super Kings do it again but this time only better.

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