In this new series, we compile all-time XIs for each IPL team. The rules are simple: the player has to have played at least 20 matches for the franchise (across the IPL and the Champions League T20); one player is eligible for selection in multiple franchises if he so merits, and you can pick only four overseas players.
Chennai Super Kings
In terms of consistent performances, there is no franchise that can match Chennai Super Kings. They have progressed beyond the league stage in every single edition of the IPL they have played in. CSK have stuck to a core group of players and it has worked wonderfully for them. Of course, you can only do that if you pick players judiciously to start with. CSK have had only 74 players play for them across seasons, the fewest among the eight inaugural IPL franchises.
This is among the easier IPL XIs to pick. So many players walked into the side without contention - MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Albie Morkel, Michael Hussey - that filling up the remaining slots was fairly straightforward.
While three overseas spots were sealed, we wrestled with the fourth. Matthew Hayden and Shane Watson both played two full seasons (Hayden played four games in 2008 before leaving for Australia duty) and both had one outstanding season and another ordinary one. We didn't consider Watson as an allrounder in our selections because when he played for CSK, he was more of a part-time bowler, and he didn't bowl at all in 2019. So the choice between two powerful Australian top-order batsmen had to be made on batting merit alone.
Hayden had a remarkable 2009, with just one single-digit score in the entire tournament. Watson more than matched that with his stellar 2018. Hayden had a big dip in 2010, and although he made over 350 runs, his average dropped below 20 and the strike rate below 120. In comparison, while Watson's form also dipped in his second year, his 2019 wasn't as bad as is generally perceived. He made almost 400 runs, though his average (23.41) and strike rate (127.56) weren't red-hot. However, Watson made half-centuries in the playoff against Delhi Capitals and in the nail-biting final against Mumbai Indians. His stepping up in the knockouts, coupled with his IPL-winning century in the 2018 final swung the vote Watson's way.
There was also a case to be made for S Badrinath. For the first six years, he was a rock in CSK's line-up, batting in a variety of positions and providing insurance against collapses. However, with the quality of batsmen and allrounders already picked, we decided it would make more sense to include an extra bowler, which allowed both Deepak Chahar and Mohit Sharma to make it.
This gives the team batting power up till No. 10 and a variety of bowling options. There are six front-line bowlers (including the two allrounders, Bravo and Morkel) plus Raina's part-time spin and an occasional Watson over.
Playing XI stats for CSK
1. Michael Hussey
64 matches (2008-2013 and 2015)
Runs 2213, Ave 40.98, SR 122.80
2. M Vijay
86 matches (2009-2013, 2018-19)
Runs 2173, Ave 26.50, SR 124.67
3. Shane Watson
32 matches (2018-2019)
Runs 953, Ave 30.74, SR 142.02
Wkts 6, Ave 41.83, ER 8.96
4. Suresh Raina
188 matches (2008-2015, 2018-19)
Runs 5369, Ave 33.98, SR 139.38
Wkts 36, Ave 30.36, ER 7.08
5. MS Dhoni (capt & wk)
184 matches (2008-2015, 2018-19)
Runs 4307, Ave 42.22, SR 140.15
6. Dwayne Bravo
103 matches (2011-2015, 2018-19)
Runs 1203, Ave 28.64, SR 136.24
Wkts 118, Ave 23.28, ER 8.31
7. Albie Morkel
92 matches (2008-2013)
Runs 909, Ave 23.30, SR 142.25
Wkts 91, Ave 25.94, ER 7.98
8. Ravindra Jadeja
116 matches (2012-2015, 2018-19)
Runs 1021, Ave 21.72, SR 130.22
Wkts 90, Ave 26.50, ER 7.70
9. R Ashwin
121 matches (2009-2015)
Wkts 120, Ave 23.70, ER 6.66
10. Deepak Chahar
29 matches (2018-2019)
Wkts 32, Ave 23.75, ER 7.40
11. Mohit Sharma
58 matches (2013-2015,2019)
Wkts 69, Ave 22.55, ER 7.95
Want to pick your own CSK all-time XI? Head over to our readers' voting page here.
For more All-time IPL XIs, click here
Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo