I have vivid memories back from 2008 when news channels were inundated with talks about this new thing called the Indian Premier League where the rich and famous of this country bought teams and players, and the biggest stars of Team India captained the teams of their hometowns.
All I remember being curious about was “if Ranchi does not have a team, what team is Dhoni captaining?” I was almost afraid MS Dhoni wouldn’t captain any franchise.
The limited overs captain of India also became the captain of Chennai Super Kings (CSK), a team bought or endorsed by zero Bollywood stars in a league solely identified with glamour. This team made a crackling debut piling 240 runs on the scoreboard and quite understandably winning the match, and the rest, as they say is history.
The IPL had a juggernaut of its own and I, and I assume many more like me, had a new favourite team. A team that started with established stalwarts like Matthew Hayden, Makhaya Ntini, Muttiah Muralitharan and Dhoni himself, and gave rise to many of its own.
Owned the IPL? YES!
For a fan of cricket, there couldn’t be a better treat to watch over the course of eight years, winning match after match after match. Losing a few games here and there, but bouncing back every single time in pure elan, CSK never were underdogs.
For every last-over thriller, there was a heart throbbing heavily against the chest, and for every thumping victory, a fan dancing crazy to whatever catchy, meaningless jingle the IPL boasted of that year. I know, I have been that fan, year after year for eight years now.
The character of CSK finds its greatness in the fact that the team was identified with the same set of greats every season, unless of course they retired or switched to different roles, like Stephen Fleming became coach. This only shows the amount of trust the players place in the team, and we couldn’t help but place our own trust right up there.
As a result, there was a team consistently in IPL Play-offs, going on to play six out of eight Finals, riding on a lot of disciplined cricket and a number of brilliant innings, like Suresh Raina’s 25-ball-87 against KXIP.
Thank you for the joy, Lions.
Heartbreak came last year in the form of the two-year suspension of CSK from the IPL following the spot-fixing case. None of us fans really cared about what went on in the India Cements top-tier management, but its implications sure were absolutely shattering.
Rajasthan Royals too were disbanded on similar charges but CSK’s departure left a void that only Royal Pune Super Giants and Gujarat Lions together could fill. And I’m glad they are doing it in true sporting spirit.
Nevertheless, I will wait till Season Eleven to root for my team – the undivided, inspired Chennai Super Kings.
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