CSK’s rise to 5th title in IPL 2023

In the wee hours of Tuesday (May 30), the MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings lifted the Indian Premier League 2023 title. They prevailed by five wickets over the defending champions, Gujarat Titans, captained by Hardik Pandya. 

With this victory, CSK tied with Mumbai Indians for the joint-most (5) title victories in the IPL history. On that note, let’s take a look at the key takeaways from CSK’s championship victory in the 2023 season.

Rising from the slump to clinch IPL trophy

The 2022 season witnessed a fresh CSK squad after the mega auction. The likes of Faf du Plessis, Josh Hazlewood, Imran Tahir and Suresh Raina were not part of the illustrious squad anymore. Also, the franchise missed their key strike bowler, Deepak Chahar for the entire season due to injury. 

However, MS Dhoni along with Dwayne Bravo, Moeen Ali, Ravindra Jadeja, Ambati Rayudu and Ruturaj Gaikwad formed a core part of the team. Ahead of the season, Dhoni passed the baton to Jadeja, but the all-rounder couldn’t perform under pressure and decided to give back the leadership duties to the ‘Captain Cool’. Due to the captaincy conundrum and comparatively fresh squad, CSK could secure victories in only four out of 14 league matches and finished at the ninth position in the table. 

However, come 2023, the squad looked power-packed with the presence of experienced Ajinkya Rahane and Ben Stokes. Although Dwayne Bravo retired, the team backed the young pace-bowling unit in Tushar Deshpande and Matheesha Pathirana, headed by Chahar. 

In the middle-overs, CSK were sorted with a spin trio of Jadeja, Moeen and Maheesh Theekshana. The batting department saw Devon Conway and Gaikwad laying strong foundations in most matches of the season. The southpaw, Shivam Dube looked in imperious form, with his ball-striking abilities. 

The likes of Rahane and Rayudu were valuable with their contributions to steer the team in the middle-overs. With good support from Jadeja, Dhoni was terrific with his explosive finishes in the death overs, which further infused confidence to the entire unit. 

The Super Kings finished second on the points table with eight wins in 14 league matches. They overcame the challenge of Gujarat Titans in the Qualifier 1, and met them again in the final. 

Batting first, Titans posted 214 on the board, on the back of Sai Sudharsan’s terrific knock of 96 off 47. Pathirana emerged as the pick of the bowlers with two scalps for the Men in Yellow. 

Due to the rain, CSK were set a target of 171 to chase down within 15 overs. The duo of Gaikwad and Conway came out with a positive mindset and stitched a 74-run stand. Then, Rahane did well to increase the tempo and help CSK maintain the required net run-rate. Playing his last IPL game, Ambati Rayudu came all guns blazing to slam 19 off 8, keeping CSK in the hunt. However, the back-to-back wickets of Rayudu and Dhoni off Mohit Sharma put the Titans on front-foot. 

With 13 needed off the last over, Mohit held his nerves to dart in perfect yorkers in the first four balls. However, he missed the mark in the last two balls, and the experienced Jadeja pulled off a thrilling victory for the Super Kings. This win marked the rise of CSK in an epic proportion, with both departments striving hard for the team throughout the season.

Top Batters for CSK in IPL 2023

  • Devon Conway : 672 runs
  • Ruturaj Gaikwad : 590 runs
  • Shivam Dube : 418 runs

The Kiwi batter, Devon Conway gave a glimpse of his talent in the 2022 season, with an average of 42. He followed it up with a clinical batting performance in the latest edition. The southpaw looked in supreme confidence to make full use of the fielding restrictions and provide the team with a blistering start. He was the top batter for CSK with 672 runs at an average of 51, with six fifties. 

The second on the list is the opener, Ruturaj Gaikwad, who has the gifted ability of timing and placement. The right-handed batter continued his strong showing in the cash-rich league to finish with 590 runs in 16 games. 

In the 2023 edition, Shivam Dube looked a different batter altogether. With Dhoni’s confidence in Dube’s striking abilities, the left-handed batter was promoted up the order to increase the team’s tempo in the middle-overs. He reaped the faith and contributed 418 runs, including an important 32* in the final.

Top bowlers for CSK in IPL 2023

  • Tushar Deshpande: 21 wickets
  • Ravindra Jadeja: 20 wickets
  • Matheesha Pathirana: 19 wickets

The young fast bowler from Mumbai, Tushar Deshpande finally made a mark in the IPL with his wicket-taking abilities. Although he was expensive with an economy of 9.92, Deshpande managed to inflict breakthroughs and secure 21 wickets to become the highest wicket-taker for CSK. 

Ravindra Jadeja is second on the list with 20 wickets at an economy of 7.56. The all-rounder played a key role to secure big wickets in crunch moments, and winning the games for CSK. 

Maheesh Theekshana, the Lankan pacer was terrific with his pace and variations to stun the batters. He finished the season with 19 wickets at an economy of 8, and is a long-term prospect for CSK. 

Have we witnessed Dhoni’s last match in IPL?

After CSK’s title victory, all eyes were on whether it would be a swan song for the legendary skipper MS Dhoni. 

In the post-match presentation, Dhoni reckoned: 

This is the best time to announce my retirement. But the amount of love and affection I have been shown wherever I have been this year, the easy thing would be for me to say “Thank you very much”, but the tough thing for me is to work hard for another 9 months and come back and play at least 1 more season of IPL.”

Certainly, it would be a perfect time to retire for MS Dhoni, for what he’s achieved in the IPL. With 133 wins in 226 games, the 41-year-old is the only captain to record over 100 victories in the cash-rich league. However, ‘Captain Cool’ looked emotional about the affection showered by his fans and cricket fraternity in what looked like his final season in the IPL. 

However, one thing was evident in Dhoni’s answer, that his playing days are coming to an end, and it will take him a few months until the next IPL auction to make a final call on his career.

With the impact player rule coming into action from the 2023 season, it seems most likely that Dhoni might feature in the next edition of the IPL as well. 

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