Chennai Super Kings (CSK) is one of the biggest teams in franchise cricket with an enormous fan following and the second most successful club in the Indian Premier League (IPL). CSK have three IPL titles and two Champions League T20 titles in their cabinet.
At the time of the inception of the Indian Premier League, franchises were given a choice to pick an ‘Icon Player’ from the home city, who would receive 15% more salary than the highest auctioned player. Chennai Super Kings did not use that option and had set their sights on one player – MS Dhoni. Since then the Chennai Super Kings have been synonymous with skipper MS Dhoni.
MS Dhoni has been CSK skipper for most seasons only missing out when he was injured. He is the heartbeat of CSK and has led the side in record-breaking games. Here we take a look at the players that have captained Chennai Super Kings over the years.
MS Dhoni (2008-2021)
India’s T20 World Cup-winning captain, MS Dhoni was a hot property ahead of the inaugural edition and multiple teams were interested in acquiring his services. Chennai Super Kings bagged MS Dhoni for a whopping price of USD 1.5 million and he became the highest-paid player in the first auction.
Dhoni led CSK to the final in their debut season. The side finished third on the points table in the group stage of IPL 2008 and defeated Punjab Kings by 9 wickets in the semifinals to advance to the final. In the final, however, Dhoni’s CSK lost to Rajasthan Royals in a last ball thriller.
In IPL 2009, Chennai Super Kings claimed the second position in the group stage with eight wins. This time they couldn’t make it to the final as Royal Challengers Bangalore defeated them in the semifinals by six wickets.
The following year, in IPL 2010, four teams were on equal points but CSK finished 3rd due to their superior net run-rate. They went on to defeat Deccan Chargers by 38 runs in the semifinals to make it to their second IPL final appearance. This time though, the glory did not elude them as they defeated Mumbai Indians to claim their first IPL trophy. CSK also went on to win their first Champions League T20 trophy in the same year by defeating Warriors in the final.
CSK backed that triumph with the IPL 2011 performance, where they finished second on the group standings with 9 wins. Dhoni’s CSK then defeated RCB by six wickets in a closely fought Qualifier 1 to reach their third IPL final. In the final, CSK hammered RCB by 58 runs to clinch their second IPL title. In the process, they became the first team to win two IPL championships in successive seasons.
Chennai Super Kings had the opportunity to achieve an incredibly rare feat in IPL 2012. CSK made it to the playoffs by a narrow margin of net run-rate but defeated MI and DC in the Eliminator and Qualifier 2 to reach the final. Dhoni’s CSK had a shot at winning three back to back IPL titles and it looked like they were well on course when they posted 190 on the board. But KKR’s Manvinder Bisla’s spectacular knock ended CSK’s dream run.
Dhoni’s CSK reached another IPL final in 2013 but were defeated by Mumbai Indians. In the following year, they again made it to the playoffs but failed to get past Qualifier 2. However, CSK made up for it by winning their second CLT20 trophy in 2014 by defeating KKR in the final.
In IPL 2015, CSK topped the group standings with 9 wins. But they were eventually hammered by Mumbai Indians by 25 runs in Qualifier 1 and by 41 runs in the final.
The Low Point
Then came the lowest point of CSK’s history as they were banned for two years (2016 and 2017) from the IPL due to their owners’ alleged involvement in spot fixing and illegal betting. Gurunath Meiyappan, an official of CSK was banned from cricket matches for life.
Back with a Bang
IPL 2018 was all about CSK’s redemption. Dhoni’s CSK finished second in the group standings and went on to defeat Sunrisers Hyderabad in Qualifier 1 and the final to claim their third IPL title. It was a fairytale comeback, one which CSK fans cherish the most.
In IPL 2019, CSK once again finished second in the group stage with 9 victories. Dhoni’s men made their eighth appearance in the IPL finals by defeating Delhi Capitals in Qualifier 2. However, their nemesis, MI overpowered CSK in the third successive IPL final between the two teams. Mumbai Indians defeated CSK by 1 run in a nail-biting finale.
IPL 2020 was the lowest point of CSK’s on-field performance as they failed to make the playoffs for the first time in IPL history. CSK were knocked out of the playoffs race after losing 8 matches in the first 11. But Dhoni’s CSK didn’t stay down for long and made a terrific comeback in IPL 2021 by winning five matches out of seven before the tournament was postponed.
MS Dhoni has led Chennai Super Kings in 201 matches, winning 123 and losing 76 with a staggering win percentage of 61.75. Dhoni has been sublime for CSK over the years as a player too, scoring 4543 runs at an average and strike rate of 40.2 and 138.7, respectively.
Known as Chinna Thala, Suresh Raina has been an integral part of Chennai Super Kings since its inception. CSK picked the young Indian southpaw for USD 650000 in the inaugural auction and since then Raina has won them countless matches on his own.
However, Raina got to lead the CSK team only in a handful of matches. In IPL 2010, a Shane Bond delivery hit Dhoni’s arm, which forced him to sit out for a week. Raina took over the captaincy for three matches against Delhi Capitals, Punjab Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore. Raina’s CSK lost two of those games, including a super over loss to PBKS.
Raina then led CSK after nine years in 2019 for a few matches in the absence of Dhoni. He captained the CSK team in six matches, winning two and losing four. Raina’s contribution as a player has been immense with 5492 runs for CSK, averaging 33.7 at an outstanding strike rate of 139.
While MS Dhoni is likely to continue as CSK captain for a while, there are a few options that might look to succeed him. The likes of Ravindra Jadeja, Faf du Plessis and even Sam Curran could be gunning for the skipper’s spot. Who do you think should succeed Dhoni as CSK captain?