The ‘EXPERIENCED’ Champions!!

 

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Exuberant batting performances, mesmerizing bowling spells, few extra-ordinary catches, athletic fielding displays and numerous unforgettable memories, IPL 2018 has proved to be the most aesthetic of all. Two months of this cricketing carnival transpired onto festive moods and post all exciting, nervous and heart-warming moments, the comeback Kings CSK emerged victorious. A team built with 11 on-field match winners, 20 off-field supportstars and thousands of dedicated fans, the Whistle Podu family celebrated their third title getting the better off SRH.

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Shane Watson took the reigns in his hand after allowing the Sunrisers bowlers to cringe on him with pressure in the first 10 deliveries, where he failed to get off the mark. 117 of 57 chasing 179 is worthy of all praise. Getting all his experience to the fore, Watson maneuvered the bowlers to all parts of the ground.

Coming off an unfortunate switch in home ground, Chennai adapted well and made the most of their opportunities. Being the most balanced side of the tournament perhaps, the ‘Champion’ crown is more a justice to their doings than a surprise.

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Their choice of going in with 9 thirty-plus players in the auction took everyone by surprise and amassed ample criticisms. However, the team management as well as coach Stephen Fleming were confident and optimistic of this decision.

What I have seen over the years is that experience and professional players dominate big part of the IPL. Older players, who are still motivated, fit and committed, can provide consistency, which help their teams to make progress at the top of the table moving forward.”

And that’s exactly what Chennai capitalized on. Be it the tournament opener against Mumbai where Bravo and Kedar held their nerve to seal the deal or the qualifier against Hyderabad where Faf du Plessis utilized his experience to see CSK through against the mighty destructive Sunrisers bowling lineup, there’s always been something about these senior players. MS Dhoni and the team management have used them judiciously as well. Allowing the players to rest, not burdening them with too much of responsibilities and giving them the leisure to play hard and free has done wonders for the team.  

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Players who seemed to taper off during the previous editions of IPL have come to the franchise and almost reincarnated their career with a flare. The way Shane Watson struggled for the Royal Challengers last year, the way Rayudu and Raina lost their places from the national side or be it the way Harbhajan Singh showed signs of giving away to age, Chennai have still bought out the best out of these veterans for the game. The opening stand Watson and Rayudu have established this season, set the tone for the rest of their middle order to follow. The discipline and street-smart bowling from Harbhajan and Jadeja just about allowed the rest of the bowlers the extra margin of error.csk6.png
Instinctive yet effective tactics from Dhoni to go along with his unleashed batting-avatar this season caught attractive admiration. The vital cameos from Bravo and Raina also came in handy along their path of victory. The young blood of Chahar, Ngidi and Billings too lived up to the expectations. But even after all this, one would still give a thought to why CSK have attained consistent success even with different set of players over the years?

 

The answer lies deep within the CSK dressing room. The culture MS Dhoni and Fleming have successfully developed over the years goes unmatched to probably all other IPL teams. The freedom they have showered upon the players to not only approach their game the way they like but also to express themselves is worth a lesson. The constant support-staff has also tuned in pretty well with the team management. Supportive franchise and warm-hosting sponsors have helped to keep the required team spirit alive. Striking a perfect balance not only with the team combinations but with the dressing room atmosphere as a whole stands a main cause to CSK’s winning habit.

 

Post the injury to Kedar Jadhav, another important factor that has influenced the turn in tides is the rotation of players as well as the batting order. Playing without any wrist/mystery spinner, it was important to generate the unpredictability and doubt in the batsman’s mind. Dhoni from time to time ensured that his bowlers kept the shape and confidence intact. By virtue of rotating them according to the conditions, he’s played everyone into form. Similar scripts were portrayed in the batting. Allowing Rayudu to seek his natural game at the top, playing around with Faf and Billings to team’s benefits and also giving himself the time and space to settle in before initiating a carnage, Dhoni had his tactics perfectly in place throughout. Despite a few disastrous loses here and there, CSK were never not in contention for a Top 2 finish. One of the masterstrokes from Dhoni however came on the penultimate day of the league stage when he sent in the tailenders to create a chaos against the mighty impressive Kings XI Punjab. Chahar and Harbhajan disturbed the rhythm of the bowlers and neutralized the swing with a few slogs and wild swings. Eventually, it helped CSK to easily pocket the match in their own den.

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Every game constitutes a game plan and every game plan demands an on-point execution. CSK this year have nailed every department with utmost glory. Under Captain cool, CSK always generated a sense of calm in panic situations. In such leagues, it’s important to fiddle around with your strengths and cover up for your weaknesses and Super Kings have pulled it off exceedingly well. Setting up a benchmark for all teams to follow, Chennai has certainly proved how experience reciprocates the given value and respect.

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AB De Villiers: A living emotion

Adam Gilchrist: ” He’s the most valuable cricketer on this planet.”

AB Can Do Everything! The ABcDe of world cricket shines with a string of many exciting, blissful memories attached to it.

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“It’s about running out of gas and feeling that it was the right time to move on. Everything is supposed to come to an end.”

AB De Villiers’ final adieu to intl. cricket has left every follower of the game shell shocked. At 34, ABD still seemed to be at the peak of his career. Be it the longer red ball formats or the shorter versions, ABD continued to add a flair with his exhilarating presence. His recent IPL performance too goes on to reflect similar scenarios. Striking the ball at a healthy SR of 160, providing those consistent impressive performances and ensuring total commitment to the game made him one of those players to watch out for. Who can ever forget that superhuman catch down the boundary line off Alex Hales! Passionate, skillful, innovative, patient yet dangerous for any bowler to face, AB De Villiers revolutionized cricket.
Born in Bela-Bela, South Africa, Abraham Benjamin De Villiers grew up as a multi-talented individual. Gifted with an extraordinary cricketing talent, it took him mere 14 first class games before debuting for South Africa in 2004. Initially, he was well utilized by the Proteas as a floater who could open, bat down in the middle order as well as keep wickets. His prowess in each of these roles earned him a place in the ODI side in 2005 and corresponding T20I squad in 2006. With every game, he continued to impress and his presence soon triggered a positive energy across the whole South African cricket circuitry. His fielding gained a lot of applause especially when he caught Simon Katich off guard with a Johnty-like dive in 2006.

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Shaping up well under the able captaincy of Graeme Smith, AB’s honest and continuous strive to develop his game brought out the best innovations and improvisations to the cricketing world. His fruitful form continued through the 2007 world cup and he then became the first South African to score a test double century against India later, in 2008. ABD was awarded as the ICC ODI Cricketer of the year in 2010, ‘14, ‘15 and is a part of ‘ICC ODI team of the year’ ever since. He matched the improbable when he recorded a 50+ average in ODIs for 7 consecutive years (2009-2015). Post 2011 World Cup when Smith hung up his boots, AB shouldered the responsibilities as a captain.

Harsha Bhogale: “For AB de Villiers, playing cricket was an adventure. There’s nothing he could not do on a cricket field.”

As they say, ‘Responsibilities get the best out of you’. AB De Villiers realised this phrase to maximum effect. His game reached new highs during this period and South African cricket found high regards in the cricketing fraternity. The iconic shuffle outside off, the exuberant sweeps against the fast bowlers, the efficient cuts and the forceful pulls, all became frequent during this period. Cricket was lent in a new definition and this South African star grew more popular as “MR. 360”.

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India’s worst nightmare also revolves around his heroics(119 of 61) as South Africa powered their way to a record 438 at the Wankhede in 2015. Not only would he hit the ball hard and time it crisply but he would also pick out gaps like a computer and would play along with the bowler and his field. “Ask the West-Indians, and they’ll explain that fear better.” His 149 off 44 balls wherein he shattered fastest 50 and 100 record in process seemed like an inhuman massacre of the cricket ball. He almost repeated the same feat against the same opponent when he took them to all parts in 2015 ODI World Cup at the SCG. His 162 of 66 balls recorded the fastest 150 and propelled South Africa to the highest ever score at the venue. But his utmost dream was not meant to be fulfilled as the unfortunate chokers gave away once again to the rain-gods in the semi-finals against New Zealand.

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Along with the limited overs format, De Villiers also expanded his reigns in the traditional red-ball cricket. His belief in his techniques, the ability to soak in pressure and his temperament to anchor the innings when needed made him a standout in the South African dressing room. Carrying the responsibility of the nation on his shoulders, AB rarely faltered to this challenge. One still remembers his gutsy fightback of 43 in 297 deliveries against India at Delhi on a bid to save the test match.

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One also remembers his attacking game-play scoring 106 against Australia helping SA chase down a mammoth 414 in the 4th innings at Perth. A player who adapted to all situations like no one else, a player who responsibly stepped up when his team needed and a player who possessed the ability to turnover a match on its head at any moment, this 4th highest centurion of South Africa laid all their worries to rest.
Meanwhile, his stints with Delhi Daredevils (2008-2010) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (2011-present) in the IPL too brought him into spotlight. Almost reestablishing a depleted RCB side, he along with Virat Kohli developed a force bowlers are still scared of. The same continued across the globe around various T20 leagues where AB continued to win hearts. His unbreakable sublime form with the bat and his sensational heroics in the field made him a real superhero for the entire cricketing world.

Virat Kohli : ” ABD is the best batsman is the best batsman of this generation and he proves it again and again!”


Today, as he bids farewell to international cricket, we would only hope him to reconsider his decision and do a Afridiar comeback soon. He’s left a huge void to fill not only for South Africa but for the world cricket as a whole. The teary-eyed wishes of every cricket fan would forever cherish the bountiful memories and unbelievable shots he gifted all along. Chasing his dream to do well for his country ABD not only left back a legacy but also a huge emotion one would never forget.
Put down in his own words: (from De-Villiers’ first solo album)
” It’s the time
Be the best that you can be
To believe in anything you dream
To live it, to breathe it
Just feel it in your heart
Stand up tall and make a noise
Just be the one,
Show them who you are!”