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Camaraderie and commitment are CSK's hallmark

S. Dinakar

— PHOTO: K. PICHUMANI

ONE FOR ALL, ALL FOR ONE: Every member of the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings team pulled his weight and delivered when it mattered to help the franchise defend its IPL title in style.

Chennai: The Chennai Super Kings cricketers were swarmed by glittering confetti, emotions swirled around, the cameras whirred and the flashbulbs clicked. Beyond the boundary, the crowd roared.

The popular franchise and its supporters will freeze the frame.

CSK's second title victory in the Indian Premier League was a culmination of a campaign driven by team-spirit. A wonderful sense of bonding was unmistakable in Mahendra Singh Dhoni's side.

He is a strong captain with his finger on the pulse of the game. There is this calmness about him that has a soothing influence on his team during tense moments.

The man's stamina — both mentally and physically — is astonishing. When the need arose, Dhoni dismissed the bowling ruthlessly. He also, shouldering enormous workload, kept wickets capably and handled the pressures of leading the side during the hectic competition where teams criss-crossed the country.

Winning is a lot about self-belief. CSK has looked adversity in the eye, clinched thrillers at the death. Situations threw up heroes.

Suresh Raina's blazing onslaught on the Royal Challengers Bangalore bowlers when everything appeared lost for CSK in the first qualifier in Mumbai reflected the resolve in the side.

Murali Vijay not only has a great sense of timing but can also time his performances to suit the occasion. His explosive 95 in the final was an innings where he banished the fear of failure, the biggest scourge of them all.

A batsman cast in the classical mould, Vijay's transformation when he plays Twenty20 cricket is stunning. He clears his front leg in a jiffy and powers the ball a long way between the long-on and mid-wicket fence.

The right-left opening combination of Vijay and Michael Hussey disrupted the line of the RCB bowlers in the summit clash. The RCB attack was hardly allowed to settle into a rhythm. The bowling was dismantled clinically during the match-winning 159-run association.

Hussey is more than an accomplished batsman for CSK. The affable Aussie, always willing to share his knowledge, has also donned the role of a mentor to some of the younger members of the side.

Hussey's welcoming smile and words of wisdom have been of immense value to CSK.

Someone like S. Badrinath has learnt much from Hussey. With a heart larger than his frame, Badri was at the heart of some stirring fightbacks for CSK. He relishes the sniff of a duel.

R. Ashwin's bag of tricks and the intelligence with which he mixed his deliveries stood out. He has this precious ability to operate at difficult stages of the innings, is undaunted by reputations.

The manner in which he foxed dangerman Chris Gayle with a quicker, straighter delivery in the title clash will be remembered for long.

Left-arm spinner Shadab Jakati picked himself up after a stumble in the middle of the league phase and off-spinner Suraj Randiv, before he joined the Sri Lankan team in England, impressed with his turn and bounce.

CSK was never short of commitment. Left-arm paceman Doug Bollinger bustled in to send down some game-changing spells. All-rounder Albie Morkel bowled and batted in a manner that was robust and paceman Tim Southee made a difference at the beginning of the competition.

When provided an opportunity, the younger cricketers such as Aniruddha Srikkanth and Wriddhiman Saha contributed. With foreign players such as Scott Styris and Faf du Plesiss not finding a place, the side possessed tremendous bench strength.

Importantly, coach Stephen Fleming had the right chemistry with Dhoni. CSK was precise in its planning and execution. And the side fielded marvellously during the competition.

CSK was a popular winner. The side also took home the Fair Play award.

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