Chennai Super Kings 2013 review May 25, 2013

Controversy mars another top CSK showing

On the field, Chennai Super Kings produced one of their best seasons yet; off the filed, the franchise was squarely in the spotlight cast by the alleged corruption in the tournament

Where they finished
Runner's up. Chennai Super Kings, in another remarkable showing, reiterated that they are consistently the team to beat in the IPL. For the fifth time in six IPLs, Super Kings made the final. For the second time in two years, however, they failed to clear the final hurdle.

In the group stage, they had their most dominant season yet. In contrast to previous editions - 2010 and 2012, in particular - when they had to make a late scramble to make the playoffs, this year there was hardly ever a doubt that Super Kings would progress. They finished at the top of the points table, despite a big loss in their last group game. At one point, they equalled the IPL record for the most number of consecutive wins: seven. A standout feature of their success was the away victories: in a year when several teams were dominant at home, Super Kings were the only side to win more than they lost in away games.

What went right
As has been the case across IPL seasons, Super Kings' biggest strength was that everyone contributed. Michael Hussey might have finished as the tournament's top run-scorer, with 733 runs (equalling Chris Gayle's record for the highest aggregate in a single season) at 52.35, but Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni averaged over 40, too. Dwayne Bravo might have led the wickets chart with 32 at 15.53 (the record tally for a season), but Mohit Sharma, R Ashwin and Chris Morris totalled 15 wickets or more as well. Hussey, Raina, Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Bravo, Morris ... they all produced match-winning contributions at different stages.

In the lead-up to this season, both in the auction and while signing uncapped players, Super Kings' obvious strategy was to strengthen their pace bowling. This noticeably worked for them, with Mohit and Morris becoming regulars in the line-up and adding some sting to what was previously Super Kings' weakest department.

Also, Super Kings seemed to have worked out a solid formula for their batting, and it worked more often than not - begin solidly instead of flamboyantly, build steadily in the first half of the innings, and let the big-hitters loose in the second half. In the final five overs this season, Super Kings scored at 11.29, the best among all the teams. That meant when they batted first, they eased to imposing totals on several occasions; when they chased, they came back to win several times when the match seemed to have got beyond them.

What went wrong
In the final, most of the aspects that made Super Kings a force this season were missing, but there's no denying 2013 was a good year for the team. On the field, that is. Off the field, Super Kings were at the heart of the biggest IPL controversy in six seasons. With top franchise official Gurunath Meiyappan being arrested for alleged betting in the final week of the tournament, the long-standing issue of N Srinivasan's conflict of interest was raked up. Srinivasan is the managing director of India Cements, the franchise owners, and the president of the BCCI. Meiyappan is his son-in-law, and till now was projected as the "team principal". Suddenly, Meiyappan is no longer a bigwig in Super Kings, Srinivasan is under pressure for holding on to his post in the BCCI, and the franchise faces the possibility of being disbanded. Will Super Kings, the team in the IPL, still exist when the Champions League comes around in October?

Best player
Super Kings most often structure wins around their batting, and this year their batting was most often built around Michael Hussey. His 17 innings included knocks of 95, 88, 86*, 86*, 67 and 65* - six of the top ten scores by a Super Kings batsman this year. He was one of only two batsmen in the IPL to aggregate over 700 runs, one of only three to average over 50 (400 runs min.), and scored his runs at a very acceptable rate of 130. While he was as solid as ever, he showed that he could also improvise to up the scoring rate when needed: one of the shots of the season was the ramp he played off a yorker-length delivery from Lasith Malinga, over fine leg, for six, in the first Qualifier. At 38, and without the pressures of international cricket to deal with anymore, Hussey should have at least another good year left in him. If he is not retained by Super Kings, he'll be one of the buys of the 2014 auction.

Poor performer
M Vijay looked the weakest link in the Super Kings line-up this year. His stats were not the worst - he scored 312 at 22.28 - but he inspired very little confidence with the manner in which he batted. There were several swings and misses, and he hardly ever dominated the bowling; his strike rate was just 109.09. And this when so much was expected of him, after his excellent showing in the home Test series against Australia in February-March.

Surprise package
Mohit Sharma came into the IPL on the back of a solid Ranji Trophy season, in which he claimed 37 wickets at 23.24. He was one of four Indian quicks signed by Super Kings this year, and had to wait a couple of games before he got his chance. When he did get into the eleven, he bowled an economical spell against Royal Challengers Bangalore and then led Super Kings' rout of Delhi Daredevils with figures of 3-0-10-3 (including the wickets of Warner and Sehwag). He played every match after that, and finished as Super Kings' second-highest wicket-taker (20) and most economical bowler (6.43). Apart from his accuracy in keeping the ball on offstump, he impressed with his back-of-the-hand slower ball.

Recommended for retention
MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, R Ashwin, Michael Hussey

Nikita Bastian is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sadhasivam on May 30, 2013, 6:41 GMT

    the 4 players to retain Dhoni, Raina and Hussey, Bravo , If hussey accepts coaching then retain Faf. Ashwin, Vijay shown very poor performance this season. Doesn't deserve to be in the retain list. They should get quality Pace bowler (not all rounder) either from SA or from Aus, also some quality spinner Mishra or Karan will strengthen the bowling attack.

  • Vikram on May 29, 2013, 0:41 GMT

    I doubt if Hussey will be retained by CSK. Remember Hayden's last IPL season? One thing that I believe will happen is that Hussey might replace Fleming as coach. That is, if, and it looks like a big if, IPL 7 happens.

  • zeus on May 28, 2013, 17:20 GMT

    I can't understand why people want to retain Ashwin and Jadeja. Ashwin was the worst performer in the later half of the league. He didn't pickup middle order wickets, and this allowed opposition teams (RR, MI, RCB, SRH) even after they were 4 or 5 down early to post or chase competitive scores. CSK was fortunate that Bravo performed well instead to pick up the slack. Jadeja, considering his tentative batting, is not worth $1M+.

    CSK should retain, Dhoni, Raina, Bravo and one of Hussey or Faf.

    Ashwin and Mohit we could buy back if needed. No need to keep or buy Vijay or Badri.

  • Dummy4 on May 28, 2013, 15:12 GMT

    4 Players will be Dhoni Raina Bravo and sir/ashwin....They wont retain hussey because he wont be playing all 3 years of contract....

  • vas on May 28, 2013, 11:30 GMT

    As far as we know Meiyappan is not a share holder of india cements Ltd. He is an honorary member of CSK. He is not paid for his role (what ever that is, we don't know the details yet). He is alleged to have been involved in betting. If proven the penalty for which is Rs200. Take all these into account, only out come of the inquiry will be, meiyappan will be suspended( if proven guilty) and CSK will continue as a franchise. India cements run 12+ cricket teams. Csk is one of them. people who run the cricket teams are ex cricketers who are also employees of india cements. I think CSK is the only franchise whose owner has experience in cricket. It will be a great loss to IPL if CSK is terminated or given to any other owner.

  • Anver on May 28, 2013, 11:15 GMT

    Dhoni, Raina, Bravo & Hussey should be retained.......but to buy other players my biggest confusion is who's gonna represent CSK at the next year's Auction ????

  • Rajeev on May 28, 2013, 11:03 GMT

    In my view, in any team foreign players should not be retained. But except Gayle, Malinga and Watson. For every other player, you can find a replacement in another player.

  • Shridharan on May 28, 2013, 10:03 GMT

    Chennai Super Kings should retain Dhoni,Raina,Hussey,Mohit Sharma.Putting M Sharma in the auction would be a risk.After his strong showing,a couple of franchisees would be interested in him and CSK could lose him.Many teams including CSK lack a good Indian Seam Bowler and that is why other teams too will be interested in him.CSK should also buy a quality overseas pacer and I think Tim Southee ,Trent Boult could be drafted.

  • vas on May 28, 2013, 9:45 GMT

    Captains for IPL7:

    CSK: Dhoni

    MI: Rohit

    RR: Rahane

    SRH: Dhawan

    RCB: Kohli

    KXIP: Chawla

    KKR: Gambhir

    DD: Sehwag

  • Dummy4 on May 28, 2013, 9:40 GMT

    If its 4, then I think, CSK will retain Dhoni, Raina, Sir Jadeja & Bravo. But, if its 5 then CSK would add either Ashwin or Morkel in the retain list. In the next year auction, CSK should go for at least 5 overseas fast bowlers. The backup allrounder for Bravo & Morkel could be Azhar Mahmood. My 5 overseas fast bowlers would be Hilfenhaus, faulkner, Steven Finn (if available otherwise kane richardson), Chris Morris and Wayne Parnell. As far as overseas batsmen are concerned, I would like to have Faf Du Plesis, Aaron finch & Adam Voges. I HAVE PICKED ALL THESE PLAYERS KEEPING IN THE MIND THE MONEY CSK CAN SPEND TO BUY PLAYERS.