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CSK, through and through

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Chennai_Super_Kings_CSK_IPL_MS_Dhoni_Suresh_Raina_Dwayne_BravoOn the southern coastline of the Indian subcontinent lies Chennai, formerly known as Madras. One of the major ports of the country, it is one of India’s four metropolises. Over the years, cities like Bombay and Bengaluru have become much more modern, but Chennai has stuck to its roots.

Chennai is famous for many things: Marina Beach, the Saravana Bhavans, the numerous Kayyendhi Bhavans, the countless temples at every nook and corner, MS Subbalakshmi, Rajinikanth, Kollywood and whatnot. The warmth of the Chennai-ites is unparalleled, as is the sambar.

Yet, if there’s one thing on which we Chennai-ites pride ourselves most, it is cricket; or as we say, kiriket. We don’t have maidans like Shivaji Park or Azad Maidan, nor any prodigious son, like Sachin Tendulkar or Sourav Ganguly. Probably the most famous cricketer to have come out from Chennai is Ravichandran Ashwin, though old-timers would always prefer Srinivas Venkatraghavan.

Despite this, Chennai has been home to some of the finest Test matches to have taken place on Indian soil. India’s first Test victory was achieved at Madras way back in 1952 against the visiting English. A Vinoo Mankad special with the ball, along with a couple of brilliant centuries by Pankaj Roy and Polly Umrigar, gave India their first taste of success: an innings victory against their former colonisers.

Decades later, chasing 387 and winning against a strong English side in the wake of the 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai evokes as much emotion. Then there was the famous Test against Pakistan in 1999 – a Tendulkar classic for the ages despite India’s loss. To crown it all, the famous tied test in 1987, a match which will forever remain in cricket folklore.

It is cricket which binds us. It is cricket which has kept us glued to TV sets, in the process missing tuition classes and missing the whistle from the pressure cooker when amma went out.  During summers, it was our only companion and our only joy during solitude. We never played in big parks; it was almost always narrow strips of a road surrounded by vendors and housing complexes with glass panes on either side of the wicket. This led to only one alternative- hitting straight.

The next big tournament was the T20 World Cup. T20 cricket was not yet as big as it is now, and many senior cricketers decided to skip it. Surprisingly enough, after faltering against the Kiwis, a new age Indian team led by the maverick Mahendra Singh Dhoni somehow qualified for the final, which was drama enough on its own. Fittingly, after the bitter defeats faced in the prior months, the T20 World Cup was won by the Indians. The fact that they beat bitter rivals Pakistan made it even sweeter.

That victory saw many changes in the Indian Cricket set up, but nobody expected the advent and subsequently the gigantic presence of the Indian Premier League.

…….

Eight years later, one thing’s for sure, the IPL has made its mark on the fabric of Indian Cricket.

Over the past decade or so, the IPL has become hugely popular with cities and their people becoming attached to their team. Well, if there has been one team and a set of fans that have made this tourney a success, it has to be that of the Chennai Super Kings.

When the subject of successful teams arises, we mostly talk about the success of clubs like Manchester United, Barcelona, Green Bay Packers, LA Lakers, the Chinese Table Tennis team and so on... But it is worth mentioning that although it has been just eight years, there has been no team as consistent as the Super Kings from Chennai.

Seeing them banned from the Indian Premier League for two years removes a lot of sparkle from the tournament. As we witness the ninth season of the league taking place, it’s sad not to see the most decorated team in the tournament.

………

To cheer for your favourite team is bliss

To whistle podu, we’ll miss…

Srinivasan, Srinivasan, Srinivasan they always said

Ashwin, Jakati, and Vijay they never said…

Dhoni, Raina, Faf, Bazz

Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!

It was eight years ago when we first saw them together…

They came here to play

We gave them much more

We gave them a home…
…..

The year was 2008. The first time I saw them walk out in the yellow jersey, it wasn’t enchanting. Yet, slowly but steadily, my love for the team grew. There was a sense of pride and a burst of joy every time they won a match. Every time Hayden or Dhoni hit a six, I felt that everything was right with the world. It was bliss.

I went for my very first CSK match a few years later. The first four, the first six and more importantly, the cheers of ‘Saaachin, Saaaaachin’ reverberated in my ears long after it ended. The sight of Dhoni leading his men out on to the turf was quite something. Very few people command as much respect as Dhoni, and on that faithful day he delivered. Although it was a disappointing day for the batsmen, Dhoni rallied his men, like the countless other times, CSK defended a low target. It is characteristic of the team – scoring small but looking big. The fact that Dhoni always had a core of the team present showed his faith in his players.

Gradually, CSK and its players chiselled out a legacy which will surely stand the tests of time. The team grew along with the people; as the seasons went on, so did the support. Needless to say, the players didn’t disappoint. Winning became a habit and so did last over finishes.

Chennai Super Kings was never as flamboyant as the Royal Challengers Bangalore, nor were they filled with star studded figures like Mumbai Indians. They weren’t even owned by a Bollywood superstar. It was and has always been a team filled with effective cricketers who excelled when it mattered. They loved to rise when it mattered. They loved to do the extraordinary.

Until 2010, Ravichandran Ashwin was a young TamBrahm ‘aathu payyan’ playing along in the streets of West Mambalam. Murali Vijay and now, Murugan Ashwin have all been part of the rumptuous and rustic kiriket scene in Chennai for quite a while. Apart from Raina and Dhoni, and for the last few seasons Ashwin and Jadeja, CSK didn’t have many established Indian cricketers in their side. That is what made the CSK story even better.

“Konja pera paathale pudikaadhu, paaka paaka dhaan pudikum” A very popular dialogue from a Tamil film, it is how I felt about the Super Kings. I always seemed to prefer the more superstars-filled line ups, but as I grew up along with CSK, I knew that my heart inclined towards only one team and that team had a wicketkeeper from Ranchi heading it.  

For the past 8 years, CSK has done it all – they won everything there is to win and they entertained us like no other team. It is certain that there will be no team as dominating and successful as CSK in the Indian Premier League for a long time to come.

Thank You for everything. Thanks for the memories.

We know you’ll be back.

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